Mill Hill car park set to be sold to housing developer

The council-owned car park is likely to be used to build more than 128 build-to-rent homes, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Bunns Lane Car Park
Bunns Lane Car Park (credit Google)

A Barnet Council-owned car park in Mill Hill is set to be sold for development under plans to boost housebuilding and raise revenue.

The redevelopment of Bunns Lane Car Park is expected to provide more than 128 build-to-rent homes, with 50% classed as affordable, plus a replacement public car park and commercial facilities.

Under the plans, which were approved by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday (18th), a 150-year lease of the 184-space car park will be granted to property developer Stories and Aviva Capital Partners, while the town hall will retain the site’s freehold.

The developer will pay a lump sum to the council for the land and take on all the design, planning and development risk.

When the scheme is complete, the site will be leased back to the council for a 50-year term. The rents received from the council’s tenants on the development are expected to be higher than the amount it pays for the lease, creating a revenue stream designed to help reduce its budget gap.

The development will be run by a management company owned by the council, which will offer assured shorthold tenancies – meaning the properties would not be at risk of being sold under the right-to-buy scheme.

When the lease expires, the council can buy the site back for £1 and decide whether to continue to rent, refinance or sell the assets, which are expected to grow in value over the 50-year term.

The principle of the sale-and-leaseback agreement was approved by the council’s housing and growth committee in 2021, but the authority and the approved bidder were unable to finalise the terms of the transaction.

A cabinet report states that the Bunns Lane Car Park development “will be an important contribution towards the delivery of new housing in the borough” and help to boost the growth of Mill Hill town centre.

It adds that the council will retain as many parking spaces as possible and install electric vehicle charging points at the site.

Further benefits of the development include the opportunity to create a direct pedestrian route through the site to nearby Mill Hill Broadway Station and flexible ground-floor space that could accommodate hospitality and community uses.

Once contracts have been exchanged with the developer, the council plans to engage with the local community on the development plans.

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