As revealed in this week’s Glamorgan Gazette, a provisional deal between the Evans family and Bridgend Council for the sale of the Salt Lake site has been drawn up and recommended for approval at next week’s Cabinet meeting. It’ll also be discussed/voted on by full council (pdf).
Officers say the pros and cons of buying out the Evans’ interest in Salt Lake were considered over the course of the summer and they agreed to move forward as long as it were on “favourable terms (to BCBC)”.
BCBC made an offer to the Evans’ based on a valuation by Alder King in September 2017. BCBC also consulted with the Wales Audit Office to ensure it has followed the right processes and procedures.
The terms of the deal are, in summary:
- BCBC will pay just under £4.2million in total (inclusive of VAT and stamp duty) for Salt Lake.
- The Evans’ will have a right to lease 5 kiosks along Sandy Bay Promenade subject to planning permission.
- Allows a temporary campervan site to operate
on Salt Lake(Edit: it’s unclear whether the report means Salt Lake or Sandy Bay/Phase 2; it’s probably the latter).
- The Evans’ will be allowed to temporarily lease Salt Lake until 30th November 2018 so they can set up a new temporary car park at Sandy Bay, which will last for ten years or until a regeneration project is approved for Sandy Bay.
- BCBC and the Evans’ will work together on a regeneration scheme for the Sandy Bay site (Phase 2) that doesn’t “negatively impact” any developments at Salt Lake (Phase 1).
If Cabinet and full council agree next week, the deal will be legally completed by 30th December. A previous plan to borrow money to fund infrastructure improvements at the site would be removed from the capital programme and revisited once plans for Salt Lake are in place.
What are the possible issues?
Officers outlined some of the potential issues that might arise from the deal.
- Officers believe there was lack of “a way forward” between themselves and the owners and it was unlikely the Evans’ would see the value of the land rise to achieve their desired “minimum price”.
- Economic prospects for the UK are “uncertain” and there’s a chance the value of the land could fall in future.
- Buying the land gives BCBC full control over what happens with it from summer 2018.
- The deal doesn’t impact any rights the Evans’ have to a share of sale receipts for land sales relating to Phase 2.
What happens next?
Officers say that once the land is purchased work can begin “as expediently as possible” on a regeneration project for Salt Lake.
Because BCBC doesn’t have the experience or staff to do the work themselves, BCBC will have to outsource any regeneration work and recoup the cost from future land sales. The masterplan for the site will almost certainly require a review, the site will also need to be re-marketed and there will need to be another public consultation.
In my opinion, the chances of any work starting at Salt Lake this side of 2020 appear slim, but this deal – and a renewed focus by the council – may see something actually happen there instead of it being left as it is.
My gut instinct is we’re probably going to see a far more modest hotel/leisure and housing-led development, not a retail-led one, as supermarkets’ appetite for opening new stores has receded quite a bit over the last few years (with the exception of Aldi and Lidl).