MORAY Councillors agreed to continue discussions with an Aberdeen-based developer over plans for a retail development on Common Good land in Forres.
The decision follows an indicative offer from Redco Milne of £6.5million for a 35-year lease of the land at Bogton Road.
The council’s policy and resources committee today heard of the risks and opportunities associated with the proposal, and agreed to hold further discussions with Redco Milne.
The committee also repeated its commitment to consult with the people of Forres before any final decisions are taken on the future of the site.
The £6.5million would include £1.5million to relocate Forres Mechanics FC to a new stadium to the east of the club’s existing Mosset Park ground.
The committee was reminded that although it was council policy that two-thirds of interest accrued by Common Good cash was available for distribution each year, a capital sum could be spent on projects which benefited the local community as a whole.
Under the current proposal, the Common Good land at Bogton – which represents the bulk of the development site – would revert back to the people of Forres at the end of the 35-year lease, in addition to a part of the site currently owned by Redco Milne.
The company, whose plans include a supermarket and retail units, has been pursuing an interest in the site since 2008. However, it is only now that it has place an indicative value on the development site.
The committee was told that the Redco Milne proposal would require the council to enter into a lease with the funder of the development which would mean the council renting the development from the funder for the 35-year period.
The council would receive a share of the annual rental income from the supermarket and retail units but would also carry the risk in the event of units being unoccupied.
Corporate services director, Mark Palmer, said: “In addition to the capital contribution and the reversion of ownership to the Common Good, the developer has made provision also for the council to share in the rental income generated from the development. The developer estimates that this could be around £225,000 per annum.”
He added: “However, agreement of the council to this proposal would require a thorough assessment of the risks required.”
The committee agreed unanimously to receive a further report fully to assess the risks and opportunities associated with the Redco Milne proposal while reaffirming the council’s commitment to consult with the people of Forres before coming to any decision on leasing the Common Good land.
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