CAMBRIDGE City Council will look to invest further in commercial property, and explore opportunities to invest in residential properties and renewable energy schemes in the coming years, in order to generate additional income to be spent on providing services.
The council’s Capital Strategy 2020-21, which was discussed by the council’s Strategy and Resources Committee yesterday, sets out how the council intends to make spending and investment decisions in the long term to support delivery of council services and provide income.
The strategy provides a framework to ensure stewardship, value for money, prudence, sustainability and affordability are all correctly taken into account in all financial decisions.
It also ensures all financial decisions fit in with the council’s overall vision of ‘One Cambridge – Fair For All’ and its other priorities including impact on the climate, the Local Plan, the future redevelopment of North East Cambridge and ongoing plans to build more than 500 new council homes.
The strategy specifically focuses on the key areas of:
- Capital expenditure – How the council’s assets, including council houses, community centres, car parks and vehicles, are maintained, replaced or upgraded
- Debt, borrowing and treasury management – This includes the use of the council’s cash balances to fund capital expenditure, as well as borrowing from external sources
- Commercial activity – In line with moves for councils across the UK to become more financially self-sufficient, the city council in recent years has focused on making interest-bearing loans to joint ventures and companies owned by the council, as well as purchasing further properties as investments using the expertise of its Property Services team.
Among the key considerations outlined in the Capital Strategy are that the council will:
- Develop commercial land and property it already owns to increase the amount of commercial property available, which is in short supply in Cambridge. Some of these development projects will also include residential properties, which will be sold to partially fund the programme
- Consider investing in further residential properties for its wholly-owned subsidiary company, Cambridge City Housing Company, to let at affordable rates for people unable to afford rents in Cambridge, but who are unlikely to be offered council housing
- Explore further options for investing in renewable energy schemes
- Redevelop Park Street Car Park as an underground car park with aparthotel above.
Cllr Richard Robertson, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources, said: “In recent years the council has been committed to increasing our investments in property, as a very important way in which to generate income as government grants have reduced to zero.
“We will also be seeking to fill gaps in the availability of commercial property in Cambridge – gaps which may be hindering the growth of businesses in the city.
“The council has a long history of owning and managing property and we are developing this further with our strong team of property managers and surveyors.
“Our Capital Strategy sets out how we will continue to invest sensibly and prudently in the future, to provide and protect the council services which so many residents rely on and to ensure that Cambridge is truly ‘one city fair for all’.”