Update on Otterpool Park

Warwick Smith in The Guardian sets out that Companies “don’t give their money away for nothing. There is an understanding (rarely made explicit) that large campaign donations buy political access and favourable consideration in policy development and legislation. Why else would a company/corporation, which is bound by law to pursue profits, make these donations?

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The Reuben Brothers, (pictured) directors of Investors in Private Capital Ltd, donated £150,000 to Theresa May’s 2017 election campaign in May of this year. Since 2008 Investors In Private Capital Ltd have donated £629,400 to the Conservative party.

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Investors In Private Capital Ltd, for those of you who do not know are the guarantors for Cozumel Estates Ltd BVI; who are Shepway District Council’s bed partners in developing the new Garden Town known as Otterpool Park. This fact was confirmed by Cllr David Drury Monk (pictured) in a response to a question from a member of the public at Full Council on the 22nd Feb 2017.

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Investors In Private Capital Ltd is owned by Wellington Estates Ltd which is a British Virgin Island company as is Cozumel Estates Ltd and both are either owned and/or controlled by the Reuben Brothers, who along with SDC wish to build up to 12,000 homes at Otterpool Park

Things have been moving “at pace” regarding Otterpool Park.

As you may recall, in early 2017, the Department for Communities & Local Government launched a Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) worth £2.3 billion to enable the delivery of up to 100,000 new homes in England.

On the 28th Sept 2017, Kent County Council submitted a proposal to the HIF seeking £281 million for a range of physical infrastructure including education, transport and utilities for Otterpool Park – see Para 2.4

Approximately three quarters of the 700 ha Otterpool site – 525ha or 640 football pitches is in the control of Shepway District Council & its partner Cozumel Estates Ltd BVI.

The timing of a Government announcement has yet to be confirmed but given the duration of the second stage, it is reasonably anticipated this could follow the publication of the Autumn Budget on 22 November 2017. We believe the submitted proposal will attract considerable funding, especially when viewed through the eye of the donation given to Theresa May’s election campaign by the Reuben Brothers. What do you think?

If the first round submission is successful – which we believe it will be – SDC will then develop a business case for submission to DCLG in spring 2018. Now it would be very useful for SDC to head of to MIPIM in Cannes, knowing that they can dangle a large carrot in front of any potential property developer.

Schemes to be funded will be announced in the summer of 2018. Will that £150,000 donation play a part in any decision? We personally think so.

The total funding to SDC from central Government to date amounts to £1,250,000. Paid over three tranches: £750,000, £345,000 and £155,000. Apparently, the third payment received was somewhat short of the amount of £1.068m applied for by £913,000. The Reuben Brothers via Cozumel Estates Ltd BVI have contributed some money, but not a lot in the scheme of things to come.

The Framework Masterplan for Otterpool Park will be considered by SDC’s Cabinet on the 14th Dec 2017, according to the Collaboration Board. We now understand this has been moved to Jan 18. Will it be behind closed doors?

Andy Jarrett has provided an update on progress in respoct of negotiations with landowners within the 700ha – 1730 acres –  Otterpool Park site to the Collaboration Board. The Board also discussed arrangements for intrusive survey work (e.g. archaeology trial trenching). Consideration has been given to phasing intrusive works and the timing of access. It is known that geophysics surveys have been going on across the site and have been carried out near Upper Otterpool on Cold Blow field – Sellindge (the area in yellow below) The Land is owned by SDC.

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The Collaboration board received an update on progress on the Market Analysis report and viability appraisal from Montagu Evans. A further update will be provided to the Board in Nov. These two documents are highly significant as they outline the anticipated profit for the whole scheme.

The Board agreed ideas for refreshing the website which was presented by Property House Marketing. An infographic is to be prepared to accompany the publication of the Framework Masterplan and video options to be explored. So watch out for the forthcoming marketing blitz.

If you wish to read all the Board’s notes and see who was present at the October meeting you can do so here

The Shepwayvox Team

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