A major property investment that ensures the future of local jobs and helps secure the council’s long-term finances was agreed at a meeting of Watford Borough Council’s full Council on the 23 January.
The overwhelming majority of councillors gave the green light to the council acquiring a 40-year lease on Croxley Park, currently home to around 60 businesses and 2,500 jobs, from the Park’s current owners Columbia Threadneedle Investments (CTi). At the end of this time, the council will have the option to buy the freehold of the Park for a nominal £10.
Championing the investment proposal, Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor said: “This is an excellent deal for local council taxpayers as it provides a good, long-term income for the council. At a time when we have seen a 70% reduction in the money we get from central government, many councils simply cannot balance the books. This isn’t a situation I want Watford to be in. This deal secures £1.5 million of additional income a year for the council, which will not only protect our front line services but allow us to continue to invest in improvements to our parks, leisure centres and street cleaning. This wasn’t a decision taken lightly by the council and we have taken thorough, independent advice from experts in their fields. This helps support jobs in our town and means that we can continue to invest in the things that matter most to local people.”
During the 40 year lease, the council will receive all the rental income from the businesses in the Park for a payment to CTi of £9.2 million per year. In addition, it will receive an £88 million up-front payment from CTi to cover ongoing costs of the site, such as for planned and preventative maintenance. The council will generate a net income benefit of around £1.5 million per year, which will be used to support important local services.
A further bonus for the council is a new 85,000 sq ft office building that CTi is adding to the Park, which offers another opportunity for the council to generate income from its investment.
This acquisition is seen by the council as a major contributor to supporting the local economy and protecting the current jobs at the Park whilst also providing Watford and the surrounding area with additional office space.