An Area of Outstanding Natural Profitability

cartoon profitability 1

KKG – Document 12b KKG – Document 44

Dear Neighbour

You may remember, a few weeks ago, we circulated details of the Covenant associated with two parcels of land on the Kempton Park estate.

Spelthorne Council sold its leasehold interest in those parcels of land to the owners of the Kempton Park estate for £499 999, around the time that the all-weather track was built in 2005. Essentially, an agreement (the Covenant) was entered into whereby, if the land was developed, or was given permission for development, before 2030, then the Council would be due one-third of the difference between the value of those two parcels when permission was granted and the earlier value (£499 999). The other two-thirds would be split equally between The Jockey Club and the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

So what would that be worth to the Council?

See the attached Document 12b, which shows the Kempton Park estate, which is entirely Green Belt (shown in darker green), in the context of the immediately neighbouring areas of Green Belt (shown in lighter green).

The area bordered in yellow is what The Jockey Club has been referring to as the “Area of Research” – the area in which it wishes to build its housing estate. That area is 90 acres in extent.

The areas bordered in blue are the two parcels of land covered by the Covenant. The wedged-shaped area is 10.728 hectares in size, equivalent to 26.51 acres. The irregular-shaped area immediately to the north east is 6.723 hectares in size, equivalent to 16.61 acres. So, a total of 43.12 acres.

Not worth much, if you can’t build on it (and if you totally ignore the value it has as part of the lungs of London). Right?

Right. The Council asked a Chartered Surveyor for his opinion (see Document 44 attached), and he thought that, as ‘uninteresting Green Belt land’ it might be worth £5000 per acre. So the whole lot would be worth a paltry £215 600 – less than the £499 999 the Council received in 2005.

But if it were given planning permission, it would be worth a lot more?

You bet. £1 million per acre, according to the Chartered Surveyor. And that was in August 2012, and we all know what has happened to property prices since then, so it’s probably worth a lot more now, and rising all the time.

Spelthorne gets how much? Here’s the arithmetic.

( (43.12 acres x £1 000 000) – £499 999 ) / 3 = £14 206 667

£14.2 million quid! That’s quite a lot of money, considering that the Council spent £64 million in the last financial year.

You can imagine that The Jockey Club and the HBLB may not be entirely happy about that. According to the Covenant, Spelthorne would be due its money within 28 days of permission being given for development.

Also, The Jockey Club is being asked to fund a major restructuring of Sunbury Cross Roundabout as part of the overall deal. ‘Why should the Council have its cake and eat it?’: was how they described it in a meeting with residents last year.

But this is surely something that can be sorted out amongst friends. We have been told that in the final weeks of 2013 negotiations were still going on to reduce the amount payable to Spelthorne under the Covenant to reflect the cost of digging a big hole in half of Sunbury Cross Roundabout and filling it in again with more lanes of tarmac. And no doubt also to agree a new schedule for payments.

Secondly, two weeks ago we asked all the Spelthorne Councillors their opinion: Should Kempton Park’s Green Belt status be retained? Last week we showed you what they said. Since then we’ve had a few more replies, as below:

Cllr Alfred Friday     Con      Sunbury East     (Planning Committee)

Thank you for your various emails and I apologise for not having responded until now.

I hope I have always made clear that I oppose development in our Green Belt and fully support Spelthorne Council policy on protecting Green Belt land as set out below by our Planning Department:

“A document called ‘Spelthorne Borough Local Plan 2001 – Saved Polices and Proposals’ (updated December 2009) states that the Green Belt on the Proposals Map will be permanent and within it development will not be permitted which would conflict with the purposes of the Green Belt and maintaining its openness. The policy goes on to identify what development would be allowed and this does not include housing. Any changes to a designated Green Belt can only be made through a formal review of a Council’s Local Plan.”

I trust this answers your question.

Cllr Joanne Sexton   Con   Ashford North & Stanwell South

Thank you for your email I agree with point A (The reply by Cllr Watts)

Cllr Tony Mitchell   Con   Ashford East   Cabinet – Environment

I concur with Councillor Watts’s views as shown at ‘A’

Cllr Tim Evans   Con   Halliford & Sunbury West

I agree with Appendix A the leader’s statement on this topic.
And now the matter is closed until and unless a planning application turns up from the Jockey Club

And, finally, we’ve been up and running for a few days online. Visit us at http://www.keepkemptongreen.com, Like our Facebook page, and Follow us on Twitter (links to both on the website).

Regards, as always

Wendy Tiler

for Keep Kempton Green

Advertisements

The municipal beehive

betting

Dear Neighbour

There’s a lesson in all this FOI stuff. Never become a Councillor or an official if you can’t stand committees.

We knew about the Steering Group – but now we’re not so sure, because we just found another committee. See KKG Document 42 attached.

Is the High Level Steering Group the same as the Steering Group we’ve read about before. And if so, what is the Kempton Park Working Party, and who is on it?  It all sounds a bit class-ridden to us: Steerers and Workers. A bit like some kind of municipal beehive. Although some social mobility appears possible. Note the and/or.

And even more importantly, who is the Queen?

And by the way, [redacted ] of LOSRA is me. Quite why that was blacked-out is anyone’s guess – unless they were using un-parliamentary language to describe me.

But now that that state secret is betrayed to the world, perhaps they might consider un-redacting the other blanked-out sentences.

On second thoughts, maybe they won’t. It’s that Reg 12 (4) (e) “internal communications” card they’ve played again. As they apparently say in those kind of beehives, everything is an Official Secret until they are forced to release it.

Last week we put the following question to all the Spelthorne Councillors: Do you think Kempton Park’s Green Belt status should be protected and maintained as it currently stands, and permission not be given for development on that land?

Attached is a summary of their replies.

As ever, this information is in the public domain. Please feel free to pass it on.

Please encourage your neighbours to join the mailing list.

There is more to come, in due course, over coming weeks.

Yours

redacted  (Alan Doyle)

for Keep Kempton Green

Speculation?

KKG – Document 37  KKG – Document 5   KKG – letter to Councillors 14 May 2014

Dear Neighbour

You may remember that a few weeks ago we circulated a document (KKG Document 5, attached for your convenience) prepared by Mouchel, The Jockey Club’s transport consultants, which laid down a timetable for the planning process for Kempton Park.

The topmost bullet point states:

Spelthorne Borough – scheduled 2014 update of Housing Evidence Base likely to set higher residential targets.

Spelthorne’s current housing target is for 166 dwellings per year to be built across the entire Borough. Spelthorne is currently ahead of this target, and can demonstrate that there is a supply of housing on stream to continue to meet this target for the next five years. This was confirmed in writing in Spelthorne’s 2013 Planning Monitoring Report.

The Local Plan is being reviewed, however.

If the current housing target were to be raised, as Mouchel say, then that would provide justification for Kempton Park’s Green Belt status to be withdrawn, and a significant housing development could easily be permitted on the Kempton Park estate.

Not only that. If the housing targets are raised so as to justify the development of Kempton Park, the higher target would:

Firstly, also immediately create a legal precedent that would put every other area of Green Belt and open space in the Borough at risk; and

Secondly, make it highly likely that the guidelines for housing density on Green Belt AND brown-field sites alike would also be raised.

A resident queried this statement by Mouchel with Spelthorne Council and received a reply which said:

“This is Mouchel’s own speculation.”

However, please see KKG Document 37, attached, which is an email exchange between the then Head of Planning at Spelthorne, and Mark Boyes of Apsire, The Jockey Club’s property development consultants in July last year. See, especially, the last bullet point in the top email:

“Need to flag up that I indicated there may be a delay in LP work on housing due to lack of staff resource. Add that I’m looking to re-jig the programme of work to bring housing higher up the priority list of evidence based work to be done.”

Also attached is a letter we have sent to all the Spelthorne Borough Councillors. We’ll let you know what they say in their replies.

As ever, this information is in the public domain. Please feel free to pass it on. Please encourage your neighbours to join the mailing list.

There is more to come, in due course, over coming weeks.

Yours

Keep Kempton Green

What can you buy for £150 000?

KKG – Document 38  KKG – Document 39  KKG – Document 40  KKG – Document 41

Dear Neighbour

What can you buy for £150 000?

What you won’t be able to buy is any of the 1500 houses at Kempton Park. But £150 000 is quite a useful sum of money elsewhere.

Have a look at KKG Document 38, attached. It is an email sent in May last year from Spelthorne’s then Head of Planning to some of her colleagues, including the Head of Corporate Governance, Michael Graham. Note the second last paragraph on the first page.

“I will probably need to do a PID as well, if only to flag up work which will be involved!! (I have asked the Jockey Club for £150,000 to help us with resource if they progress further down the line – which they have said yes to in principle).”

To put that in context, the basic salary range for the Head of Planning is £50 993 to £66 928. The range for the Head of Corporate Governance is £58 861 to £66 928, and that for the Chief Executive is £98 511 to 111 069.

That £150 000 can fund quite a lot of salaried time.

And it creates, at the very least, a blatant conflict of interest.

Did the Head of Corporate Governance (whose job it is to notice such things) object to this £150 000 arrangement? If he did, his correspondence saying so is not amongst the FOI papers. But we’ll be writing to him to find out.

After all, a year earlier he objected to The Jockey Club’s offer to provide “drinks and racing” to Councillors after their meeting at Kempton Park on 21 March 2012. (KKG Document 41). If ‘drinks and racing’ can be viewed as potentially trying to “influence any future decision”, then what about £150 000?

We are sure that the Stewards of The Jockey Club are all very generous and charitable people. But they surely wouldn’t be handing over £150 000 without expecting something in return.

Also attached is the article on the front page of today’s Surrey Herald (KKG Document 40). In it, the current Head of Planning is quoted as saying:

“…However, just because we give advice, this does not mean we necessarily support a scheme…. “

But take a look at KKG Document 39, an email exchange between his predecessor as Head of Planning and the Chief Executive in January last year.

“As I mentioned if this kicks off then it will be a flagship and will need a lot of time and resources to deliver a permission in 18 months time.”

Deliver a permission? That looks pretty much like supporting a scheme to us – something which a number of Council representatives have been denying, in terms, for months.

And before we forget. The prize for Understatement of the Year 2013 goes to the phrase in KKG Document 38, end of the second paragraph.

“Suffice to say that they’re not looking at a small area of infill.”

Well done for that.

As ever, this information is in the public domain. Please feel free to pass it on.

Please encourage your neighbours to join the mailing list.

There is more to come, in due course, over coming weeks.

Yours

Keep Kempton Green

Kempton Park Confidential

cartoon foi 9

KKG – Document 36

Dear Neighbour

Attached (KKG Document 36) is an email exchange between the then Head of Planning at Spelthorne and the Spelthorne Chief Executive, dated 23 Feb 2012. The subject of the email, as you can see, is CONFIDENTIAL: Kempton Park and affordable housing.

The emails were copied to two of the three Assistant Chief Executives at Spelthorne (Liz Borthwick and Lee O’Neill), the then Leader of the Council (Cllr Frank Ayers) and the Chief Executive’s PA, Dawn Richards.

The “MAT” is the Managerial Action Team, which comprises the Chief Executive and the three Assistant Chief Executives (Terry Collier is the third one).

You can see what we mere mortals are not supposed to see. The text has been redacted for reasons of being an “internal communication”.

However, note the second line of the topmost email:

“Preparing a MAT report may well be of value, although the ‘title’ would need to give nothing away.”

Give nothing away“? It seems they didn’t even want their colleagues to be privy to their thinking.

We think – we obviously won’t know unless that redaction is removed – that the redacted text has to do with the substantial under-provision of affordable homes over many years. Developers have been paying S106 money in order not to have affordable homes on their developments, but rather built elsewhere in the Borough. As a result, Spelthorne has ended up with a fund of S106 money – some of which is time limited; if they don’t use it, they will lose it – but with less and less land available on which to build these affordable dwellings. Kempton Park represents a way out of that particular conundrum.

But if that is the case, why is it so secret? It has been common knowledge for months, gleaned from meetings with Council representatives and consultants to The Jockey Club. What else could they have been discussing – the codes to the Polaris missiles?

Meeting with Mr Nick Kilby

Three members of the LOSRA Committee and a representative of KKG  met Mr Nick Kilby (PR consultant to The Jockey Club)  on 28 April. There was a wide ranging discussion, which covered:

1.   The two heated meetings which took place between LOSRA committee members and representatives of Spelthorne Council late last year, information which was available then, and information which has become available since. It was explained that these issues are at the root of the distrust with which residents in Lower Sunbury and much wider afield view Spelthorne Council.

2.   The issue of affordable housing on the site, which we believe to be one of the central driving forces for the Council supporting a housing development at Kempton Park. Briefly, although Spelthorne is ahead of its own overall housing targets, insufficient affordable housing has been built over many years. Spelthorne has a target of 40% of any new development to be affordable housing, but developers have routinely paid S 106 money in lieu. The result is that Spelthorne now has a fund of S106 money – some of which is time limited; they lose it if they don’t use it – and increasingly less land to use it on. Kempton Park, for Spelthorne, represents a way out of that particular conundrum.

3. The other substantial financial planning gains for Spelthorne from a development of such a size.

4. Some time was also spent on the issue of the size of the development. Mr Kilby said his understanding was that the 1500 figure represented a development at Kempton Park of 1000, plus other schemes which will shortly come on stream in the area – 194 at London Irish, 28 at the Old Police College, 30-odd at the Old Environment Agency site, etc etc.

We pointed out how large this proposed development would be. 1500 homes represents 1/3 the size of the existing two wards which encompass Lower Sunbury, and would require, on a pro rata basis, two new Councillors. After the meeting, documents were forwarded to Mr Kilby which state specifically that the 1500 units are to be built at Kempton Park.

These documents have already been circulated to the KKG mailing list. They are KKG Document 8, which is an internal email from Surrey CC Highways which mentions plans to develop “between 1500 and 2000 dwellings on surplus land at Kempton Park, Sunbury.” ; and KKG Document 26, an email exchange between Ramboll (a consultant to the Jockey Club) and Natural England, which states “The current proposal is to build 1500 residential units and 10 supporting commercial units on the east side of Kempton Park Racecourse.”

5. Mr Kilby was at pains to say that his latest approach to us is not the prelude to a renewed round of consultation. Alan Doyle, for KKG, had understood from talking to others that there was to be renewed consultation. He accepts that he was mistaken. What Mr Kilby is proposing instead is a “medium of communication” beginning in June and continuing at two-monthly intervals, whereby anyone interested in the proposed development at Kempton Park will meet to be updated by representatives of The Jockey Club.

6. Two requests were made:

a.    That, in the interests of restoring some measure of better relations, access to the Kempton Park estate be given to a botanist acting on behalf of residents.

b.    Since development on Green Belt land can only, by law, take place in very special circumstances, developers should, in putting forward proposals, be very specially transparent. Would The Jockey Club make public its unconsolidated annual accounts, for the last three years, say, showing the financial positions of the numerous race courses, including Kempton Park, which it owns?

As ever, this information is in the public domain. Please feel free to pass it on.

Please encourage your neighbours to join the mailing list.

There is more to come, in due course, over coming weeks.

Yours

Keep Kempton Green