Huntingdonshire District Council has recently completed on the purchase of the Rowley Arts Centre in St Neots, a leisure complex comprising cinema, restaurants, gym and car park.
This successful purchase is the latest investment in St Neots by the District Council and follows the purchase of four industrial units at the Little End Road Industrial Estate, Eaton Socon in December 2018.
The two investments support both the economic and retail offers within St Neots, and together will generate a net income to the District Council in excess of £400k per annum. This will provide additional financial support to assist the Council in delivering essential services to the public and help keep Council Tax as low as possible.
The purchase of the Rowley Arts Centre was announced by Executive Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, Conservative Councillor Graham Bull, who explained the reason for the Council’s sizeable investment. He said:
“Today, both private and public sectors face the ever-growing challenge of finding new and imaginative ways of doing more with less, and local authorities such as Huntingdonshire District Council are under pressure to balance their books while delivering a range of resilient public services. The District Council’s decision to embrace an active investment strategy, that can also support economic development, is already helping the Council generate additional income that we are investing in frontline services.”
“The economy in Huntingdonshire is thriving, with buoyant demand for commercial property. As a council, we plan to continue to invest in commercial property here in Huntingdonshire and use the income from our rental properties for protecting and enhancing frontline services, while making sensible decisions and protecting your investment.”
The Rowley Arts Centre and Little End Road Industrial Estate acquisitions form part of the District Council’s Commercial Investment Strategy and Business Plan. The primary aim of the strategy is to generate an income stream that supports the delivery of Council services and follows carefully considered investments at other sites both within and outside the District.
To date, Huntingdonshire District Council has invested approximately £27.9 million in a mix of industrial, retail and office accommodation, the Council having purchased these commercial assets with an expectation of generating an investment yield of over 6% per annum across the sites. By acquiring these assets, the Council has added in excess of £1.6 million to its annual revenue stream, this in comparison to approximately £167,000 in investment income that it would otherwise have achieved by a 0.6% interest rate return from a bank.
Huntingdonshire District Council’s Executive Councillor for Strategic Resources, Councillor Jonathan Gray said:
“The Council’s Commercial Investment Strategy has been developed in a way which puts a greater focus on generating long term returns on investment, such as rental income. As a result we strongly believe that this strategy will help support the wider financial position of Huntingdonshire District Council, and help us achieve our long term ambition of financial independence and sustainability.”
Councillor Gray added:
“When the District Council launched its Commercial Investment Strategy five years ago, we were advised to spread our investment risk by investing in a range of properties across different areas. The purchase of the Rowley Arts Centre presents the Council with not only a sound investment, but also with an exciting opportunity to help shape the fortunes of St Neots in the future.