Lewisham Council’s cabinet is set to re-vote on the controversial Millwall compulsory purchase order (CPO) next Thursday in a special meeting.
The vote comes after the council’s Business and Overview Scrutiny Panel called in the decision by the cabinet in September to approve plans for a 2,400 home regeneration project around Millwall’s land – over questions being raised about the intentions of developers Renewal’s anonymous owners.
The re-vote kept being postponed, however, after an external investigation was launched into a document relating to one of the owners of property developers Renewal.
A report published by the council ahead of the re-vote has now revealed that the document in question was a sales brochure put together by commercial property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), on behalf of International Holdings Limited (IHL) – one of Renewal’s owners.
The document outlines possible investment scenarios for the regeneration project, as well as a possible disposal of their stake in the scheme.
Following the investigation, it was established: “IHL engaged LSH in April/May 2015 to advise on the New Bermondsey scheme as an investment opportunity.
“LSH’s original proposed terms of engagement to IHL covered a review of a range of investment scenarios with potential investors, including outright acquisition, acquisition of IHL’s shareholding, JV structures, partial investment, and later stage option structures.
“LSH noted that at this stage their objective was to source “interest in principle” commitment from potential investors.
“The scope of LSH’s mandate was amended in June 2015 so as to focus exclusively on introducing and brokering financial investors into a fundraising.
“LSH also noted at the time that IHL might decide to sell part or all of their stake in that process.
“It is evident from subsequent correspondence that IHL’s objective was to attract investment into the project, not to achieve an outright sale of its interest in it, and that wished to remain involved in the project.
“In February 2016, IHL confirmed to LSH that it had decided to put a stop to the search for a funding partner until after the CPO process, and decided not to extend LSH’s instruction.
“LSH have confirmed that during the course of the instruction, they produced the LSH Brochure, but that they had not been instructed by IHL or the Renewal Group or any individual in the Group to prepare it, nor was the LSH Brochure seen or approved by IHL or Renewal.”
The report ahead of the re-vote, put together by the council’s Executive Director for Resources and Regeneration, Head of Planning and Head of Law, concluded that “officers remain of the view that there is a compelling case in the public interest” for the CPO to go ahead.