Decision Maker: Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and University
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
The Cabinet Member granted a 12 year lease for the former allotment site on London Road to the Green Backyard.
The Green Backyard describe themselves as an award-winning community growing project and charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) first established in 2009. Through the dedication of volunteers over the last 7 year period has transformed and regenerated the former allotment site into a thriving community hub, garden and growing project, delivering education projects, a vibrant events programme and opportunities for young and old to come together in a safe and inspiring environment.
The London Road allotment site was vacated in 1992 by allotment tenants and was identified as being required for the South Bank redevelopment project. The Green Backyard were relocated to the site from Dogsthorpe as an interim measure on the basis of a short three year licence to occupy the site in May 2010. As part of that arrangement the Council agreed to help find an alternative site by the time Green Backyard were required to vacate the site. Agreement could not be reached on an alternative location and the Green Backyard sought to remain in occupation, considering that a city centre location was the only viable option for their operating model.
The Council agreed to allow the Green Backyard time to raise funds to purchase the site but they were unable to do so. Subsequently, the Council agreed to give the Green Backyard an opportunity to bring forward a viable business plan to remain in occupation on the site and supported them in doing so. The Council required that this business plan showed a clear social return on the Council’s investment in the site to offset the loss of its value for development.
A great deal of time and effort has been taken in producing the business plan and the Green Backyard now have a very clear sense of direction and ambition. The document makes links to the Council’s strategic priorities and to wider national agendas with a clear governance structure and objectives to take the charity forward.
The Council recognises and commends the effective use of volunteers and the amount of time devoted to the site to enhance the project. The business plan demonstrates how the site can develop and increase the number of volunteers and participants using the site. Given the significant development taking place in the vicinity including Fletton Quays the site has the potential to offer a significant environmental and community resource for both existing and new residents.
To progress with the sale of the London Road site for development with a minimum sale price to meet the Medium Term Financial Strategy requirement of £750,000. This option has been rejected due to the significant social return of £490,000 that the Green Backyard have been able to demonstrate from their activities with the local community during 2015/2016, with future social returns outlined in the Green backyard business plan.
The decision to grant a lease would, under typical circumstances, fall into the remit of the Cabinet Member for Resources. However, Councillor Seaton has a conflict of interest, in that he has an interest in the work and activities that take place at the London Road site through the Green Backyard. As such, the decision falls to Councillor Holdich in his capacity as Leader of the Council, as per the Executive Procedure Rules, 1.5.2.
Publication date: 27/01/2017
Date of decision: 27/01/2017