Swansea Council Shifts Policy by Selling Freehold for Block of Shops to Developer
COUNCIL chiefs in Swansea are selling the freehold for a block of shops to a developer and reviewing its wider policy for the 101 city centre buildings it owns.
Cabinet members agreed the freehold disposal for 254-260 Oxford Street to a developer, Llanelli-based Kartay Holdings Ltd, which wants to upgrade them and build 33 flats above. A report said only two of the retail units were currently occupied.
The decision to dispose of the freehold was a shift in the council’s established policy of retaining freehold interest in the city centre, which brings in revenue of nearly £1 million per year and also gives it more control over planning developments. Selling a freehold brings in one-off sums, which can be large.
A report before cabinet said Kartay Holdings had asked the council if it would consider altering the £88,250 ground rent for 254-260 Oxford Street or selling the freehold as it felt the current arrangements were onerous and would prevent it from proceeding with its plans. Alternatively the company would, according to the report, possibly be willing to agree revised lease terms.
The cabinet report said that, in this instance, disposing of the freehold represented “best consideration”.
Council leader Rob Stewart said the Labour administration had a clear policy of encouraging more people to live and work in the city centre, which the plans for 254-260 Oxford Street complemented.
Cllr Stewart said: “The world does not stand still. We know how the economic landscape for city centres and town centres is very different to the 1980s and 90s when many of the arrangements we operate under were set.”
After approving the freehold disposal, cabinet went into closed session to discuss a longer report about the proposal. No figures were given in public about how much the freehold sale might be worth, and no further city centre freehold sales will take place before the wider review is completed.
When Kartay Holdings applied for planning permission to build the 33 flats and upgrade the shops earlier this year, it said the floors above had been vacant for more than 10 years. The company is behind other projects in the city centre, including a new office building with a striking glass facade on Princess Way, to be known as Princess Quarter. It will include ground floor commercial units and is due to open early next year.
Kartay Holdings director Ian Morgan said: “Obviously we are delighted that the local authority are supporting redevelopment in the city centre and we are encouraged that they are reviewing their policy on freehold retention.
“Kartay have a number of projects that we have under way in the city with several more planned. We see the regeneration of Swansea city centre as an exciting opportunity for investment whilst providing places for people to work and live in the city, all of which will support the retail and hospitality business that operate there.
“Therefore it is vital that private and public sectors are able to work collaboratively in ensuring redevelopments are viable.”
Spotted something? Got a story? Email News@News.Wales