The Executive Member for Environment, Finance and Governance and the Director of Finance submitted a report for the Executive’s consideration. The purpose of the report was to outline the case to provide Star Academies, in partnership with Eton College, with a first option to purchase the designated land at Middlehaven under agreed commercial terms, subject to outlined conditions.
Star Academies was recognised for its extensive experience of establishing, developing and continually improving outstanding schools that delivered outstanding results, including in terms of the progress made by pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and for progress made by their most able learners.
The site, identified as site No 19, highlighted in Appendix A of the submitted report was 1.45 acres, and had been declared surplus to the operational requirements of the Council and was currently being held as available for sale.
The Council’s vision for the regeneration of Middlehaven included the development of educational provision in the area, including development at Middlesbrough College and Outwood Academy Riverside. The development of educational provision in the area brought animation to Middlehaven and increased footfall in both the immediate area and the town centre.
It was planned that the commercial principles would involve the following:
· Star Academies being given the ringfenced option to acquire the land - subject to achieving DFE support and funding for the sixth form college development;
· land being disposed of at market value; and
· the land being subject to revaluation.
The Council could have chosen not to support the disposal of a site. That, however, would have led to the potential of the project being delivered elsewhere. Middlesbrough Council recognised both the educational benefits the project would deliver, along with the wider economic and regeneration impacts that such an opportunity presented. Therefore, the Council was committed to ensuring that it facilitated a site that met the key objectives of the project.
The Council could have facilitated the site on non-commercial terms. The application of the asset disposal policy had been applied to the last three educational developments in which all three had included land disposals. For the three transactions, commercial terms had been agreed. As such, it was imperative that the Council maintained its position that the asset disposal policy was followed and equity in its application towards the principles of commerciality in the transaction was maintained.
That Star Academies be provided with a first option to purchase the designated land at Middlehaven under agreed commercial terms, subject to:
· DFE funding for the project being approved;
· the land being disposed under commercial terms at market value; and
· a further report being brought to Executive on the detail of the disposal, in accordance with the Council’s Asset Disposal Policy.
The decision was recommended for the following reasons:
· the previous three educational developments had all been progressed on commercial terms, namely Discovery School at Natures World, Northern School of Art and more recently Outwood Academy Riverside at Middlehaven;
· the proposal would fit with the Council’s vision for the regeneration of Middlehaven;
· it would generate a capital receipt;
· ensuring the parcel of land was ringfenced for the development signalled a clear commitment to all parties that the Local Authority was supportive of the proposal; and
· the future potential disposal may be at a value in excess of the £150k threshold.