Businesses facing compulsory purchase threat are offered new valuations after Romford Recorder investigation
PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 October 2020
Business owners who claimed they were being offered a small fraction of their property values under a council regeneration scheme will be given fresh valuations, following an investigation by the Romford Recorder.
Havering Council, which wants to buy the businesses’ bases through compulsory purchase orders if they cannot reach agreements, has agreed to new surveys for companies on Romford’s Bridge Close industrial estate.
The council wants to demolish the estate and replace it with more than 1,100 flats.
Council representatives suggested the new valuations could be higher than before, thanks to the withdrawal of two private companies from the development scheme.
They pulled out of a joint venture with the council in September, claiming the project was not financially viable enough. The council now plans go it alone.
Earlier this month, the Recorder revealed the joint venture had tried to buy companies’ buildings for a fraction of what it would cost to relocate within the borough.
Heating maintenance firm AC Preou was offered £140.45 per square foot for its current building, but quoted £596.03 per square foot to buy a replacement in Gidea Park.
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On October 12, after collecting similar evidence from several businesses, the Recorder sent its findings to Havering Council.
Three days later, on October 15, business owners attended a meeting with Neil Stubbings, the council’s director of regeneration, and Colin Cottage, a contractor assisting the council in its negotiations.
Minutes from that meeting, prepared by the Bridge Close Business Alliance (BCBA), state: “Colin Cottage advised that it is clear new valuations need to take place. Neil Stubbings advised that the restrictions imposed on the joint venture are now removed as the council do not have to meet profit and loss targets.”
Havering Council did not dispute the BCBA’s minutes.
BCBA founder Julia Herold said: “Let’s hope that in these new valuations they consider that we are businesses worth keeping in Romford and offer us more – because if they don’t, we have got to go. We can’t move around here for what they have offered us.”
Councillor Graham Williamson, who sits on the council’s Joint Venture Working Group, said he cautiously welcomed the news.
He said: “There was a massive gulf between what we were offering and what they needed to survive. But Havering Council is as poor as any other. I’m a little bit suspicious about how the council suddenly doesn’t need a partner and doesn’t need to worry about profit.”
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