Agenda item

First Wessex Garage Sites

            Michelle Rooks-Dawson, Head of Development Sales and Assets, and Richard Paine from First Wessex, David Quest from Quest Estates (Chartered Surveyors and Valuers) and Glyn Burton from Hampshire Garages Investment Ltd. will be attending the meeting to discuss the proposed transfer of garage sites.


The Panel welcomed Michelle Rooks-Dawson, Head of Sales and Assets, and Richard Paine, Land and New Business Manager, from First Wessex. Also in attendance were David Quest from Quest Estates (Chartered Surveyors and Valuers) and Glyn Burton from Hampshire Garages Investments Ltd. They had been invited to the meeting to explain the proposed transfer of the First Wessex garage portfolio.


            David Quest gave Members a presentation on future plans for the garage sites, if they were to be sold to Hampshire Garages Investments Ltd. It was explained to the Panel that there were 1,129 garages and parking spaces with 604 (54%) let and 525 (46%) vacant.


            The Panel noted that the rental of garages was not the core activity of First Wessex; its funding and resourcing had needed to be prioritised for the provision of social housing. It was noted that there had been a lack of pro-active management, no regular programme of maintenance and repair and no long-term strategic objectives for continued ownership.


            The Panel noted that, in order to achieve the goals of developing tidier and more desirable garage sites, Hampshire Garages would need to work with an established garage management firm. Members were advised of the criteria for the possible management firm. There was a particular need for a local office with local staff. Two firms had been shortlisted for award of the management contract: Courtman and Co. and Secure Parking and Storage.


            Photographs showing the condition of some of the garage sites were shared with the Panel. It was explained that it would be necessary to identify the garage sites in disrepair and the sites with a greater tenant demand and re-build them. Members were informed that the traditional garage size would not be suitable for parking an average UK car. It was therefore intended to build garages in three sizes to cater for different uses of the units. It was suspected that security would be important to tenants and therefore, the introduction of CCTV, secured fencing and lighting was intended.


            The annual rent for the garage sites had been £600 per annum and it was questioned whether this was too high and was one reason for there being such a large number of vacant sites. The potential for solar panels being fitted to the roofs of the garages had been explored. It was noted that if this was successful and resulted in greater income generation, a reduction in rent for some customers could be a possibility.


            The leading competition for garage sites was the large number of self-storage companies. It was noted that the main difference between the two was that those companies offered heated and secure storage. Storage companies also offered flexible rent contracts to customers, whereas garage contracts were generally for twelve months. 


            Michelle Rooks-Dawson assured the Panel that First Wessex had worked with the Council’s Planning Service and this had confirmed that none of the properties included in the portfolio had development potential.


            The Panel NOTED the presentation and recommended to the Cabinet that the transfer of the garage stock to Hampshire Garages Investment Ltd. Be approved, subject to:


·         First Wessex entering into an agreement with the Council to ensure that the capital receipt from the sale is reinvested in schemes within the Borough

·         Hampshire Garages Investment Ltd. entering into a Deed Covenant with the Council not to transfer or grant any long lease of the stock or re-develop the stock without the consent of the Council

·         First Wessex meeting the Council’s legal costs