Swale Borough Council's Cabinet will be asked to approve proposals to borrow up to £28 million to acquire the leisure and big box retail development in Sittingbourne and fund some of the specific works relating to the regeneration project, at a full meeting next Wednesday (9th November).
The Council, in a Press Release, stated: "as the grants received from central government are being removed, [we] the council is working on ways to become self-financing by finding new sources of income. For many local authorities this means investing in property in their local area and in Kent this is already happening in Canterbury, Maidstone, Medway, Ashford and Sevenoaks. Historic low interest rates mean that the council is able to access cheap borrowing to invest in the scheme, and independent expert financial advice suggests a substantial financial return would be achieved".
Cllr Duncan Dewar-Whalley, cabinet member for finance at the council, told SFM News: "This is a great opportunity for the council to kick start our strategy of becoming financially self-sufficient and at the same be investing in the regeneration of Sittingbourne. We have worked long and hard for this moment which will hugely increase the leisure and retail offering to the residents of the whole borough making an excellent financial return that will benefit our borough for many years to come."
As well as investing in the cinema, hotel, restaurant and big box retail developments, the council would also fund £2.2m of essential highways work from reserves to reduce the up-front cost of the project.
The £500,000 of demolition costs for the Princes Street Depot site - which would need to be demolished anyway - will also be underwritten by the council, with the costs then be repaid using South East Local Enterprise Partnership funding.
Swale Borough Council's Cabinet Report on the proposals is available by clicking here.