A mystery buyer looks to have been lined up for Peterborough's Northminster site where an apartment block is under construction

Sale will deliver immediate cash injection for financially struggling council

By Paul Grinnell
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 5:00 am

A mystery buyer is poised to complete a major deal to purchase and carry out a multi-million pound apartments development at Peterborough’s Northminster.

Emergency decision making powers have been invoked by Peterborough City Council after the sudden emergence of what the local authority describes as ‘the presence of the third party’ to develop the site.

The council has waived normal decision making procedures to allow a quick approval of the sale of the Northminster site to the buyer by May 18 this year.

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This image shows how the Northminster development in Peterborough will appear once completed.

The purchaser’s identity is being treated as a confidential matter by the council although the principle of selling the land was agreed by councillors earlier this year.

Using the urgent decision making powers means the council does not have to give 28 days notice of the proposed decision and waives councillors’ ability to ‘call in’ the decision to challenge it.

A decision notice about Northminster released by the council states: “These procedures have been invoked in order to enable the Council’s decision to allow the sale and onward sale to take place simultaneously with a required completion date imminently to allow the third party to finalise its arrangement for the development of the site.

It adds that the ‘presence of the third party’ has ‘only come to light recently’.

This image shows how the Northminster development will appear once completed.

Under the deal, the site will be sold by the council to the Peterborough Investment Partnership, which has co-ordinated the work to bring about the land’s development, and then immediately sold to the buyer.

It is understood the sale of the land will ensure a significant cash injection for the council, which is currently struggling to bridge a £27 million funding gap.

A capital receipt for the site will be paid to the council within this financial year and is expected to be the second major financial boost for the council this year.

A payment of at least £1 million is expected once the construction of the Hilton Garden Inn hotel at Fletton Quays is completed later this year and the nine-storey building is handed over to the Hilton Group to open to guests in January.

A council spokesperson said: “There will be third party involvement - a private developer will be buying the site and building the flats. Our proposed completion date is May 18.”

Councillor Steve Allen, the council’s Chairman of Growth, Environment and Resources Scrutiny Committee, said: “The identity of the buyer is commercially confidential at the moment. The sale will bring a significant sum of money to the council.”

The Northminster development has been made possible by a £14 million grant from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and involves the construction of 315 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with two ground floor units to be used for leisure or hospitality.

All of the apartments will be offered at discounted rents, set at or below 80 per cent of the normal market rate, improving the affordability of high-quality homes in the city centre.

Construction began in March with the work being carried out by developer Willmott Dixon.

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