Former Redsands site in Willaston - aerial shot

Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester Councils have raked in millions of pounds in land sales in the past five years, latest figures show.

Between them, they raised more than £73 million, according to data produced by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

CWAC raked in by far the most of any authority in North West.

Between 2013 and 2018, the local authority sold off 216 ‘spaces’ – including farms, residential homes and development land – and raked in £62 million from those sales and cash to fund capital projects, including town centre regeneration.

CWAC’s most lucrative sale was land at the former Brook Farm residential school in Tarporley for £7.3 million.

Over the same time period, Cheshire East raked in almost £11.5 million from 49 individual land sale deals.

That figure included the sales of the Pyms Lane Depot in Crewe for £4 million, Redsands Children’s Centre in Willaston (pictured) for £3.15 million and Cypress House in Handforth for £936,050.

The council says the £11.5 million raised in that time was part of a bigger sales programme in the past decade – which will continue next year.

A spokesman at Cheshire East Council said: “In line with government guidance, the council looks to bring surplus assets back into economic use.

“Receipts from the sale of assets are treated as capital and dealt with in accordance with the procedures and guidelines set out in the council’s capital strategy.

“Capital receipts from asset disposal are used to fund new capital investment or offset future debt or transitional costs.

“Sales of assets have returned £62 million to the council between 2009 and 2018 and a further £2 million is anticipated in the new financial year 2019-20.”

Charlie Seward, CWAC’s deputy chief executive, said: “The receipts the council gets from the sale of its land and buildings is used to support the delivery of its capital programme, and not to fund the operating costs of the council.

“Over the period 2013 to 2018, the council has delivered capital schemes to the value of £630 million.

“Over this period the council has invested in a number of significant schemes and has used its capital receipts to help fund this investment.

“This includes the delivery of two new leisure facilities in Northwich and Ellesmere Port, development of the new Storyhouse theatre in Chester and investment in a new waste depot and waste recycling centres – as well as investing in highway improvements, ICT transformation projects and other regeneration schemes throughout the borough.”

CWAC raked in £3 million each from the sales of residential homes The Laurels in Winsford, Crossways in Lostock Gralam, Whestone Hey and Astbury Lodge in Ellesmere Port, and Wealstone and Florence Grogan House in Chester.

For the Bureau’s investigation see thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2019-03-04/sold-from-under-you

(aerial pic of former Redsands children’s home in Willaston, courtesy of Jonathan White)

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