Barking and Dagenham Council to buy Welbeck Wharf floodzone land
PUBLISHED: 14:00 14 December 2018
The council's purchase of land in a flood zone is 'possibly just the beginning' of a spending spree.
Barking and Dagenham has agreed to buy the 9.25 acre Welbeck Wharf site in River Road in a deal with the current owners Seabrook Holdings Ltd and Montpelier Pension Trustees Ltd.
Be First – the council’s regeneration company – believes the land is a development opportunity but even the council has pointed out it lies in a flood zone.
Finance chief, Cllr Dominic Twomey, said: “It’s probably just the beginning of a number of purchases over the coming years.”
He added that there were a number of potential issues involved including the need to secure a price at no more than the site’s value on the open market.
“We need to ensure we get the best possible deal for public money,” he said.
The cost of clearing up any contaminated ground would need to be deducted from the final payment, Cllr Twomey added.
Under the deal, the vendors agreed to the sale only if they could lease the site back for up to three years at an agreed rent, which has not been revealed.
Financial details were “commercially sensitive” and not discussed at the public meeting.
Cllr Cameron Geddes said it was getting hard to explain to residents the benefits of the council’s commercial purchases.
“If we can’t explain the figures we have been privy to, people hear about sums of money thinking these might be at risk,” he said.
But he added that he was pleased there was a clause in the report on the need to minimise risks to the council.
Cllr Twomey said it wasn’t new for councils to buy land.
“We do this to make money to make sure we don’t cut services,” he said.
Council leader, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “I’m quite confident the flooding risk will be mitigated. There’s a big barrier right where [Welbeck Wharf] links in with the Thames.
“I hope that carries on working because if it doesn’t we could all be in trouble along the Thames edge,” he joked.
Cabinet members agreed to buy at a meeting on Tuesday (December 11).