Moray councillors to discuss major retail proposals

Moray CouncilA long-awaited report on proposals for a major retail development on Common Good land at Forres will go before members of Moray Council’s policy and resources committee next week.

They will be asked to recommend to full council how, or if, the plans by Aberdeen-based Redco Milne for the land at Bogton Road should be progressed.

The company already has planning permission for a supermarket, filling station and three non-food retail units for the site, although next week’s meeting will be told that due to changes in the property market it now has plans for an 80-bedroom hotel, a foodstore, drive-through and eight retail units.

The current cost of the development has been put at close to £20 million.

Although Redco Milne already owns part of the proposed development site, the bulk is held on the Forres Common Good Account.

The report to the policy and resources committee follows advice from consultants appointed to examine the Redco Milne proposals and outlines two options in the event of members agreeing to the disposal of the Common Good land.

The ‘traditional approach’ would see the council dispose of the land to the developer for a capital sum, while the ‘income strip approach’ would see the council receiving a capital sum as well as ongoing rental income from the development.

The consultants have calculated that the ‘traditional approach’ would result in £1.5m of income to the Common Good Fund, while the ‘income strip approach’ would generate £4.1m in income plus £242,000 a year.

Under both approaches it is estimated that the number of local jobs created would be 469.

However, the ‘income strip approach’ would carry a much higher degree of financial risk which the council would be required to underwrite

The third approach would be for the council to advise the developer that it does not wish to proceed with the disposal of the Common Good land.

If the Redco Milne development were to go ahead, it would require Forres Mechanics FC to relocate their Mosset Park ground on Common Good land to the east of the existing stadium.

The report states that discussions have taken place between all parties on the specification of a new football stadium.

“The costs will effectively be met from the Common Good’s share of the proceeds from the transaction and for an enhanced facility, as preferred by the football club, are estimated at £3.5m.”

Providing a new home for the football club was a requirement of the planning consent granted for the development in June 2013.

Were the retail development to proceed, the report - which can be read here - says that it is very difficult to gauge accurately the likely date for completion, it was likely that the ‘traditional approach’ would take a minimum of 18 months.

“The income strip approach is likely to take a minimum of 30 months because of issues such as the higher requirement for pre-lets and additional legal procedures to address procurement issues.”

The report adds: “It is recognised that delays and uncertainly will cause continuing concerns in the local community.”

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