RAPID progress is being made in filling a prime retail site in Bognor Regis.
Councillors were told this week that The Arcade in the town centre was set to become a worthwhile investment for Arun District Council.
Alan Peach, the council’s group head of corporate support, said: “The budgeted rate of return…for the investment is nine per cent for 2018/19.
“The Arcade is starting to show a reasonable return. This will only be increased as we get more of the units occupied. We are filling up the units relatively quickly. It used to be run by a pension fund some distance away.
“The council is being quite active in getting different tenancies, short leases, in place. I think this rate of return is reasonable in the next 12 months.”
As reported, Arun bought The Arcade in the High Street last October.
It was the first acquisition in the council’s property investment strategy to provide future income from rents and to help to regenerate the town centre.
At the time, the 20-plus retail units in The Arcade contained about a third of the empty shops in the town centre.
Mr Peach reported to the council’s overview select committee on Wednesday the total cost of the purchase was £1.92m. On top of this, about £50,000 is being spent to bring the vacant units to a lettable standard.
“These are temporary costs because there are repairs in order to attract businesses to the shops and we need to put in electricity and toilets as well.”
The income from the site of £180,000 a year was among features of the proposed budget for 2018/19 Mr Peach detailed for the first time at the meeting.
The committee recommended the budget with its £5.13 – or 2.99 per cent – increase in an average band D payment for the year from April. This will push Arun’s share of the total bill up to £176.40. It will go on to be debated by the council’s cabinet on February 12 and all councillors on February 21 before it is finally agreed.
Mr Peach said the £24.2m budget would be balanced. The council would also have the comfort of £8m in balances.
Among the intended spending was £2.1m for self-contained homes for temporary accommodation for homeless people to reduce the council’s reliance on costly B&Bs.
In addition, the council had upped its expected spending because of the rising number of homeless people to £704,000 from the current £533,000.
“The Homelessness Reduction Act is really causing a huge increase in our expenditure and it’s putting more and more people in B&Bs,” he said.
Cllr Dr James Walsh (LD, Beach) said: “I am very pleased to see the investment in homelessness and making sure sure we have got more proper accommodation rather than B&Bs.”
But he warned the council’s intention to build 25 homes a year for permanent occupation would make little difference to the backlog for social housing.