Advantage West Midlands and
the Homes & Communities Agency have spent £12.75 in land acquisitions,
£1.168m in demolition costs and £522,000 in professional fees since
December 2006. These figures do not include the staff costs incurred
in 6 years of planning or the imminent purchase of the historic King
Edward public house which is to be demolished to make way for junction
improvements. The HCA values the land at £6.86m (approximately £340k
per acre) representing a net loss to the taxpayer of at least £7.58m.
However looking at the most recent significant land transaction in the area
which was less than £200k per acre, the loss could be nearer £10m
If the Council were to go ahead and compulsory purchase Concentric
Park Industrial Estate the cost would run into several more millions to
buy the land, demolish the buildings, compensate the occupiers, etc.
resulting in even greater losses.
There is a danger that regardless of
the other considerations raised the Advanced Manufacturing Hub could
become another example of a well intended public sector initiative
becoming a white elephant. It seems that with suitable private
sector developments immediately available the Council should be promoting
those and disposing of it's land as soon as is reasonable without
incurring further major costs and endangering businesses and jobs.