To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.
John Antoniades, Estates Manager introduced the report that presented the Draft Asset Management Report for 2021/22 for consideration and public consultation.
Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:
- The Asset Management Plan for 2021/22 provided a management strategy for the Council’s property assets.
- It provided details of the principles, procedures and mechanisms to be adopted that effectively and efficiently manage the property portfolio.
- It further summarised the value and composition of the current portfolio and evaluated specific actions from the previous financial year related to the Council’s property estate and identified the main portfolio ambitions for 2021/22.
- The draft Plan was produced in October 2020, part way through the financial year, so the figures and details would change as the year progressed.
- The planned maintenance programme was subject to adjustment as capital applications progressed and as condition surveys unfolded.
- The total planned spend was likely to be around 4.5% higher than currently shown. Any necessary adjustments would be made prior to the report being submitted to Cabinet.
- The portfolio was currently valued at £104.69m.
- The Council this year had negotiated lease renewals, new lettings and rent reviews to an increased value of approximately £46,600 annually.
- In addition all property rentals that were subject to annual rental increases resulted in a net annual increase of £3,900.
- Vacant space in the portfolio had been reduced by letting or licencing space to reduce occupation liabilities and achieve rental growth.
- Property and Estates continued with the disposal of surplus land held by the Council.
- The planned maintenance programme for 2020/21 would have completed works to the value of £600k. Capital Projects to the value of £2.35m and Capital Receipts to the value of £3.126m (expected by year end).
- No property assets had been acquired during this period.
- Following the declaration global climate and biodiversity emergencies by the Council in July 2019, the Climate Emergency Advisory Panel contracted Laser to produce a Carbon Audit and Carbon Reduction Plan. The initial results of this work in respect of the Council’s estate were set out under Sustainability in the Cross-Cutting section of the report.
- In a very difficult market the Council had nevertheless achieved the letting of 69 St John’s Road to an Estate Agent, albeit with a 12 month rent free period. As previously mentioned the property on Monson Road (ASK Restaurant) was being actively marketed.
- The Council’s aim was to try and retain tenants and keep income flowing in what was a very challenging market. However, the Council would still look for rental growth where appropriate.
- Estates were always proactively looking for investment opportunities and worked closely with other departments within the Council to keep a close eye on what was happening in the market.
- When considering the disposal or development of any piece of land the net benefit would always form part of the consideration.
- British Land held the long leasehold for the RVP and it was therefore their responsibility to negotiate with tenants. British Land were committed to Tunbridge Wells and had invested a considerable amount of money in the centre. They were working to retain existing tenants and actively looking for new tenants to take the spaces currently unoccupied.
RESOLVED – That the recommendations to Cabinet set out in the Report be supported.