Agenda item

Proposed Purchase - Ground Wellington Road - CHI/17/216

Please note that there is an exempt appendix in the Exempt/Confidential Business Section of the agenda




With reference to article 12 of the minute of its meeting of 7 December 2016, the Committee had before it a report by the interim Director of Communities, Housing and Infrastructure which provided details of the outcome of the instruction to request the property be sold by the Scottish Government to the Council for £1.


The report recommended:-

That the Committee -

(a)       note and discuss the content of the report including the outcome of the request and response from the Scottish Government; and

(b)       instruct officers to progress the preferred option from the options detailed in paragraph 3.10 and if appropriate, instruct the Head of Legal and Democratic Services to conclude the purchase of the ground incorporating appropriate clauses to protect the Council’s interest.


The Convener, seconded by the Vice-Convener moved:-

That the Committee -

(1)       note the outcome of the request and response from the Scottish Government; and

(2)       instruct the Head of Land and Property Assets to progress the option detailed at 3.10.2 in the report, requesting that the Scottish Government sell the ground to the Council at its current market value of £5000 and if agreed, instruct the Head of Legal and Democratic Services to conclude the purchase of the ground incorporating appropriate terms to protect the Council’s interests.


Councillor Nicoll, seconded by Councillor Catriona MacKenzie moved as an amendment:-

That the Committee –

(1)                      note the report to the Communities Housing and Infrastructure Committee of 13 January 2015, Agenda Item 12.3, proposing that sufficient land should be reserved by the Council to ensure that Wellington Road could be widened to provide improvements to the transport corridor at the development opportunity site (OP104) which had arisen following the closure of Craiginches prison by the Scottish Government.  Further notes that as a management of risk, acquiring the land would allow the prospective development to be designed in a way that minimises objection and complaints as the land will be omitted from any sale of the site for development;

(2)          note the Committee resolved:-

(a)          approve the land identified on the site of the former Craiginches Prison  for the purposes of improving the transport corridor A956 Wellington Road, and

(b)          To instruct officers to enter into negotiations with the Scottish Government to seek transfer of the land into Council ownership at no cost to the Council, noting that provision would be made within the capital programme as a contingency;

(3)          note the report to the Finance Policy and Resources Committee of 7 December 2016, Agenda Item 12.4, advised elected members that the Scottish Government rejected the proposal at 2(b) above and that “... discussions would continue regarding the exact area of ground required how it would relate to the new housing development at the former prison site and the value of the site. It was agreed the site would be valued by an independent valuer in accordance with the transfer of property within the Scottish Public Sector and to this end the Valuation Office Agency was instructed.”   Further notes the author concerns regarding matters which may arise if the land was not purchased and how the purchase linked with strategic objectives of the Council and that the officer concluded “the value of the land had been undertaken by an appropriately qualified Chartered Surveyor and that therefore it is my opinion that the purchase price is fair.” and recommended purchase for £230,000;

(4)          notes the decision of the Committee:-

(a)          note the content of the report and agree to instruct officers to confirm to the Scottish Government that the Council no longer wishes to proceed with the purchase of this land at £230,000 valuation, but would consider purchasing the land for £1 as an act of goodwill given our £75m contribution towards the AWPR; and

(b)          instruct officers to report back to the Committee on the Scottish Government response to the request;

(5)          note that in a letter dated 26 August 2016, as part of the planning process for the Craiginches development the Council have imposed conditions on the developer.  Condition 16 required the developer to construct a retaining wall.

“No development shall take place unless construction and design details of the proposed retaining wall between the site and Wellington Road has been submitted to and approved in writing by the planning authority.  Thereafter the wall shall be constructed in accordance with the approved details.

Reason – In order to ensure that the wall has sufficient retaining strength and would not compromise the future dualing of Wellington Road.”

(6)          note the £8 Million investment by the Scottish Government in the £21M development by Sanctuary Scotland to provide 124 homes for key workers at the Craiginches site, the £430,000 developer obligations committed to local community assets.  Further notes the number of affordable houses developed by the Council between 2014/15 and 2016/17 amounted to 344 properties from an identified target of 1245 properties;

(7)          note the response from the Scottish Government to the purchase negotiations to date and the detailed legal advices contained within the Exempt appendix at 5.1 to the present report and that at present it is not possible to implement Compulsory Purchase powers in the present circumstances; and

(8)          instruct officers to take the appropriate steps to purchase the land at the independent valuation of £230,000 as previously budgeted in the strategic land acquisitions budget.


On a division, there voted:- for the motion (10) – the Convener, the Vice Convener and Councillors Donnelly, Grant, Greig, Houghton, Macdonald, Reynolds, Sellar and Wheeler; for the amendment (7) – Councillors Allard, Cameron, Jackie Dunbar, Flynn, Catriona MacKenzie, Nicoll and Townson.


The Committee resolved:-

to adopt the motion.

Supporting documents: