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South Cambridgeshire District Council to invest £340m in property

Plans to invest £340m into real estate over the next five years have been unveiled by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

The plans, which were unveiled and voted on during a full council meeting, intend to increase the amount invested in the local authority’s capital investment strategy, which is currently around £100m.

A council spokesperson, when asked as the how much of the money invested would come from borrowing, said decisions around whether to use cash reserves or borrowing to fund the investments would be made at the time of any future investment as the council’s monthly cash flow varies substantially.

Leader of the council, Cllr Bridget Smith, sought to reassure some concerns, saying: “The important thing is that we have a broad portfolio, that we do not have all our eggs in one investment basket, because that is risky. By spreading our investments, we minimise our risks.

“It’s also important to have exit strategies for all our investments, and that we have a very, very robust asset management programme. We are taking this extremely seriously.

 “The opportunity to do nothing as far as investments is long past. We all know of the challenges facing local government now thanks to the continued reduction in central government funding and the uncertainty of the future.

“So, if we just want to keep on treading water, we have to have revenue from investments.

READ MORE: District authority to plug part of £4m cash gap with council-owned housing firm

READ MORE: City Deal opens up billion pound investment in Cambridge

“If we want to actually start delivering more, and delivering on our priorities, particularly in my mind those to do with decarbonising South Cambridgeshire, we have to generate more money to do it”.

Lead cabinet member for finance at South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cllr John Williams, added: “The council needs the income from our investments to maintain our services. Not only maintain our services, but actually to improve our services.

“I accept that commercial investments in particular are risky business, which is why [we] have an investment criteria matrix, which our officers are sticking to rigidly, to make sure that we are making sure that we look after the money that our residents pay”.

The sum of £340m investment was identified in the council’s strategy document and targets prime and close to prime commercial real estate investment, which can generate both local regeneration and economic development benefits, as well as positive financial returns for the council.

South Cambridgeshire District Council has already begun investing in such property, confirming in April that it had spent £13m buying offices on Cambridge Science Park in order to raise money from rent.


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