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Special meeting: Hereford's old cattle market
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- Herefordshire Council this morning held a special cabinet meeting on the future of Hereford's old cattle market
- Members have approved a new funding arrangement to ensure the development still goes ahead
- The council will waive £500,000 it would have received
- British Land has agreed to relax some of its original conditions
Herefordshire Council has just released this statement:
THE Leader of Herefordshire Council, Councillor John Jarvis called a special meeting of Cabinet today (31 October) at which final changes to the contract to develop the Old Market site in Hereford have been agreed.
Cabinet discussed changes to the initial agreement between the developers of the site (Stanhope plc) and British Land plc. With preparatory works and demolition underway, the meeting successfully resolved the few remaining conditions, paving the way for construction to begin on the new retail development imminently.
The changes include that the council will waive £500,000 of money it would have received from the deal and that British Land will agree to relax some of its original conditions before the funding is released. Stanhope has also agreed to reduced returns from the deal and will bear additional costs that were not known at the outset. The discussion today has come about in response to changes in the market value of the development. By agreeing to the variations, the cabinet has ensured the Council will receive £1.5million from the developers as a capital receipt, before returning its £500,000 waiver.
Nothing in the proposal has changed the agreement on lettings, which is in place to protect the economy of the existing city centre and with today’s news, critically, all three parties are now locked into the development; a major milestone for the project.
Councillor Jarvis said: “We all negotiated very hard and I believe we have managed to deliver a really good deal for the City and the County. Everyone has made concessions but today’s agreement now means the only retail scheme to open in the UK in 2014 will be here in Hereford.
“This development will generate more than 1,000 jobs, in addition to the jobs during the construction phase. It will lead to £1.25million of business rates income to the Council along with the income from the new car park on the site. The Council will still retain the car park as a capital asset.”
Alistair Shaw from Stanhope commented: “This is a critical last step in bringing to fruition the first funding deal of its kind to be agreed in the UK for more than five years; a deal which will bring about a real boost for the county. The commitment being shown in Hereford, and in agreeing this landmark deal, is exciting for all parties and for the residents and businesses of the city. Everyone has had to make significant contributions to make this deal happen, but we are delighted with the cabinet’s decision, which serves as evidence of our shared vision for Hereford’s future.”
Vote goes in favour of cabinet meaning Stanhope gets additional £500k.
Coun Hubbard says "the £500k is not essential for this deal. It is just propping up Stanhope's profit."
Coun James tells cabinet "You are swimming in a shark pool and they are taking advantage of you. For goodness sake stand firm."
Coun James says the project is 'bleeding the county for £50m."
Coun Terry James tells the cabinet they are pumping money into a private development.
Coun Matthews says Stanhope "should pick up the bill and get on with it."
Coun Bob Matthews says he is not against modernising and if the project goes ahead people will try to make it work.
Coun Hubbard tells cabinet if they were putting their own money into the project they would apply "a lot more common sense."
Coun Hubbard: "I said this would happen in July that is a fact."
Coun Hubbard wants full council to make the decision.
Coun Mark Hubbard says he would like the term 'value for money' to be clarified.
Coun Phillip Price says the deal stil represents value for money.
Coun Russell B Hamilton says "the amount we are being asked to waive will be repaid mutiple times over."
Coun Harry Bramer urges cabinet to accept proposal because a refusal would put any project back 'five or 10 years'.
Coun leader Jarvis fears Hereford will be left with a large car park if no agreement is reached today.
Council leader John Jarvis describes today meeting as 'urgent' and says he will stop the meeting if there are any interruptions from public gallery.
Today's meeting is now underway.
Cabinet members are gathered at the council HQ. Many other councillors are hear to listen to the meeting.