Revealed – the properties outside of Suffolk two of your councils have bought
- Credit: Jason Noble
Two Suffolk councils which have controversially invested millions of pounds into out-of-county retail, office and commercial property are set to sign off their investment firm’s business plan for the year this week. Here is what they already own:
DW Fitness, Lincoln
The building occupied by the DW Fitness in Lincoln was completed in May 2019
Lutea House, Brentwood
One of a tranche of office investments in recent months, Lutea House (completed March 2019) represents a second investment in Brentwood after Marks and Spencer
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Omron, Milton Keynes
The Omron office block in Opal Drive, Milton Keynes provides an opportunity to generate increasing income from rents, CIFCO said. Completed January 2019.
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Westpark House, Southampton
The Westpark House office facility was purchased in December 2019
Olympus Business Park, Ipswich
The industrial units in Olympus Business Park, completed in August 2018, is CIFCO's only Suffolk investment to date
Eastman Way, Hemel Hempstead
Situated in the Maylands Business Park, 2 Eastman Way is another warehouse property in CIFCO's portfolio, bought in July 2018
Princes Gate Retail Park, Harlow
CIFCO purchased the units occupied by Go Outdoors and Lewis's in March 2018
Pasadena Trading Estate, Harlow
More warehouse property, one of two investments in Harlow to date. Completed February 2018
Greyfriars Court, Milton Keynes
Greyfriars Court is home to a host of car dealerships, and represents one of two Milton Keynes-based investments. Purchased in January 2018
Marks and Spencer, Brentwood
One of the controversial retail investments, CIFCO owns the building occupied by M&S, also bought in July 2018
Commercial warehouse property in Norwich bought in February 2018
Long Causeway, Peterborough
CIFCO's first investment from December 2017 is the building housing Caffe Nero and Wagamama in Peterborough
What is CIFCO?
CIFCO Capital Ltd is a property investment firm jointly owned by Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils.
Its aim is to bring in income without the council having to raise taxes or cut frontline services.
To date, it has pumped £50million into 12 properties, with both councils signing off a further £25m each for investment this year.
But just one of the properties is based in Suffolk and investment in retail properties has caused concern from opposition groups, who said there were inherent risks and called for that cash to be put into housebuilding locally instead.
At the joint scrutiny committee where the business plan was examined, company directors confirmed they were not looking to invest in any more town centre retail this year, but could instead evaluate retail sub-sectors like drive-ins, trade stores and local supermarkets.
Babergh's full council will discuss the plan on Tuesday, before Mid Suffolk debates it on Thursday.
Accounts for the company's first year revealed a £3.1m loss, which the board said was down to one-off purchase costs. However it aims to double the £1.4m income the firm brings in to the councils.
Suzie Morley, Mid Suffolk council leader, said: "Like all local authorities, we are under unprecedented financial pressure to deliver services to our residents.
"By careful investment through CIFCO we can generate alternative sources of income rather than make reductions to our services.
"We often hear the accusation we should be investing in our own districts rather than in property elsewhere - but it's not 'either/or'.
"The rental income we receive from the properties is reinvested within our districts, enabling us to invest in local regeneration and in meeting the needs of our residents."