CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Answers are needed on the failure to collect the Talacre debt

01 April, 2021

Prince’s Park development next to Talacre open space

• THIS is to bring your readers bang up to date on the scandal of Prince’s Park development, next to Talacre open space, Prince of Wales Road, where the council is failing to collect a minimum of £3million owed to the people of Camden.

Because of Camden’s failure so far to collect its agreed share of the profit, council leader Georgia Gould invited us to have a Zoom meeting in October with the two relevant executive members, Cllr Danny Beales and Cllr Richard Olszewski.

Without committing themselves on how much is involved (we reckon up to £4million) they agreed an amount is due but maintained it is difficult to collect because of weakness in the agreement under which Camden sold its land.

They promised us a full report on the situation within a few days: “…we will get a written summary of what we have discussed and (send it to you)…” Over five months later, nothing but promises have been received.

So we decided that the time has come to broadcast the key facts to all 54 councillors and beyond. We hope this leads to a proper settlement and the saving of Camden’s reputation.

Here are the facts.

The land was sold for £320,000. In the sale agreement of 2007 the estimated selling price and profit for the 36 private flats, was £8,197,639 and £1,987,180.

Both those amounts were provided by the developer’s partner and accepted by Camden. Locals and anyone else knowing London prices thought those amounts were too low.

However, we were able to draw comfort because the contract required Camden to receive a share in any increase in profits.

The flats sold for £20,757,590 in 2014. We estimate the total profit to be shared to be over £15million, with Camden’s share under the formula in the sale agreement, to be up to £4million.

So why can’t it be collected? The two executive councillors told us it is because of difficulty created by the contract wording.

When earlier we probed this through a Freedom of Information request, a reply dated 16.6.20 included: “Any suggestion that this documentation was not drafted to professional standards is not accepted”.

Our legal advice is that the money owed to Camden is, indeed, collectable even though the contract makes it harder to collect than it should have been because our council allowed the flats to be occupied before the amount due was settled.

We now ask that Cllr Gould, reconcile two apparently anomalous positions. It’s agreed by all parties that the overage payment is owed to Camden.

However on one hand the council argues that the “documentation is professional” and on the other “Overage cannot be collected”.

Please can the citizens of Camden have a proper answer? This debt to the people needs to be settled.

NICK HARDING
& BRIAN LAKE, NW5

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