Otterpool Park Update: Council Make £26 million Offer To Buy Reuben Brothers Land
Folkestone & Hythe District Council Corporate Director for Place and Commercial – John Bunnett (pictured), was in Nov 2019 given the green light to begin negotiations with Cozumel Estates Limited to acquire their land and property holdings within the Otterpool Park development boundary.
On or around the 18th Dec 2019, the Council made an offer to the Reuben Brothers Company, Cozumel Estates Ltd, of approximately £26 million pounds to purchase their land and property within the Otterpool Park boundary site. With stamp duty and legal fees etc, this would rise to about £27.5 million. No money has been drawn down yet to acquire any of the land and property owned by the Reuben Brothers. We understand any monies needed will come from the £100 million the Council granted themselves back in November 2019. This money will be drawn down from the Public Works Loan Board.
This information has come from several members of the Otterpool Working Group, who let some of the information slip after one to many glasses of alcohol over the new year period. They were all informed that this is “commercially sensitive” information. However, a bit too much alcohol loosened their tongues.
Cozumel Estates Limited owned by the Reuben Brothers and registered in the British Virgin Islands, purchased Folkestone Racecourse on the 12th April 2016 for £4 million, according to the Land Registry.
The Reuben Brothers or rather Cozumel Estates Limited also have land options with Richard & Christopher Price who own the land between Sellindge & Newingreen.
The option to purchase the Price’s land was agreed on the 26 June 2017 and is contained in an Agreement dated 14 June 2017 made between (1) Richard Price (Snr), Richard Price (Jnr) and Christopher Price and Cozumel Estates Limited. The beneficiary of this agreement is Cozumel Estates Limited.
The Council would need to negotiate a potential option to purchase this land.
The land option land is marked in Orange (Price Family Land) & Magenta (Hurley Land) and the Racecourse (Reuben Brothers land) is outlined in Orange/Yellow
Land Assembly by Folkestone & Hythe District Council & Cozumel Estates Ltd BVI – Google My Maps
The Land in the map falls within the Otterpool Park Boundary. Both F&HDC & Cozumel own the majority of land and are close to completing on the rest. All told the hectarge is 756 hectares.
Is this our councillors getting greedier and not wishing to share the spoils, or a change in central policy whereby Otterpool Park is to become a ghetto taking the unwanted from London boroughs?
I suspect that our Councillors want to attract more young affluent and upwardly mobile home owners and also businesses who want to relocate to the Otterpool Park/other nearby locations in Ashford.
They have no financial incentive to accept other London residents unless there is provision for social housing and I would anticipate that local residents on the waiting list would get priority. Also, our Councillors would not want to upset the existing political status quo in a safe Conservative seat by importing thousands of social housing residents from outside the area.
Council Tax will undoubtedly rise again this year and probably by more than inflation.So how much will be attributable to Otterpool?No one wants it so why should we contribute to spending our money on something no-one wants?Lets all withhold our Council Tax until Otterpool is consigned to the bin.
Might I ask the obvious question why is FHDC paying £26m for something which cost £4 in 2016. Do they have to buy?