In cross examination at the Northern Line Extension Public Enquiry (see http://www.persona.uk.com/NLE/) Transport for London (TfL) revealed that they will be paying nothing for the use of Kennington Green and Park. Although they are paying nominal amounts for the subsoil rights – £50 in the case of Kennington Green – they will be paying nothing to occupy the land as such.
The following link shows a copy of the NLE agreement dated 12 November 2013 between Lambeth, Transport for London and London Underground
TFL17 Lambeth and TfL agreement Nov13
The agreement includes money for “Relevant NLE Sites Consideration” which I interpret as TfL paying Lambeth for the following:
- £50 for Kennington Green permanent land/subsoil interests
- £800k for the acquisition of the Kennington Park Keeper’s Lodge including permanent land/subsoil interests throughout Kennington Park
- £24k towards Lambeth legal and surveying expenses
A further £50k + VAT towards costs of relocating Bee Urban will also be paid. Additional costs associated with re-instating the spaces once the NLE work are complete would be required regardless. For example, Lambeth require a deposit and would charge community groups/commercial users for any damages to the green spaces on top of any daily rate. Page 49 of the following guide indicates Lambeth’s charges for commercial events http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/2BA23F6E-1A42-42E7-89F3-018225BC5DA4/0/EventsGuideV14b.pdf)
The financial aspects of the NLE agreement appear to be very favourable for TfL so much so that I commended them on their negotiation skills. On the other hand, Lambeth residents appear to have been short changed by up to £2.9M based on the following analysis.
- Sale of Lodge at under market price £150k (£950k-£800k)
- Kennington Green Charges £547,500 (£500 x 365 days x 3 years)
- Kennington Park Charges £2,190,000 (£2,000 x 365 days x 3 years)
The precise amount will depend on what is a fair market price for occupying public green spaces. Community groups would be charged several hundred pounds per day for occupying such land and commercial operations even more. TfL are proposing exclusive access 24 hours per day for several years and there should be an appropriate daily charge for that occupancy.
As far as I am aware, Lambeth did not consult with the public on the contents of the NLE Agreement and if there is some ‘benefit in kind’ at work here this must be made transparent. The tax authorities would not take kindly to public bodies using sleight of hand to avoid paying what is due and this seems to be the case with the current NLE Agreement
I would not wish to suggest for one minute that anything illegal or improper has gone on here. I’m sure officials on all sides would have been acting with the best intentions. However, there is a rather large financial shortfall that needs to be accounted for.
With this in mind, I have in the first instance written to Lambeth asking for the matter to be investigated and have also raised the issue with the NLE Public Enquiry.
[Declaration of Interest: Although the NLE tunnels pass near my house, I am personally in favour of it. My interest is mostly about the impact on local shops and businesses. At the Enquiry I was making representations on their behalf particularly those around the Kennington Oval area. Unfortunately TfL seem willing to sacrifice local shops and businesses in these areas (in the short/medium term) for what they think will be a long term benefit. I disagree with their analysis. There is an existing commercial imbalance in the area caused by the congestion charge zone and ill thought out parking restrictions. The NLE will add to the imbalance. I will continue to press for rebalancing and improvements to the public realm in commercial areas a I believe this will help local shops/businesses to flourish.]