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Heart of Cumbria Ltd announces appointment of Non-Executive Directors

Non-Executive Directors of Heart of Cumbria Limited L-R: Stephen Lancaster and Gareth Owens,
Non-Executive Directors of Heart of Cumbria Limited L-R: Stephen Lancaster and Gareth Owens,

The commercial arm of Eden District Council – the Heart of Cumbria Ltd has announced the appointment of two non-Executive Directors.

Stephen Lancaster and Gareth Owens join the company’s Chairman Councillor John Owen MBE (Eden Development Portfolio Holder) and Councillors Gordon Nicolson OBE and Paula Breen (Eden District Council’s Resources Portfolio Holder) to make up the company’s Board of Directors.

The Heart of Cumbria Company was formed in December 2016 as a separate legal entity to the Council, with the purpose of working commercially to help achieve the District Council’s corporate objective of creating more affordable housing. The company will also undertake investments in commercial and residential property to provide additional revenue to invest in Council services, to meet an anticipated shortfall in funding from central Government by 2020.

The Chairman of the Heart of Cumbria Ltd’s Board of Directors, Councillor John Owen MBE, said: “I am absolutely delighted to welcome Stephen Lancaster and Gareth Owens to the company’s board. They have excellent skills and experience in the housing, land and legal sectors that will prove invaluable in helping the Heart of Cumbria Ltd to achieve its aims in the months ahead.

“Creating and running a commercial company is new way of working for Eden District Council, which affords us exciting opportunities to work with developers and land owners to deliver much need affordable housing, create higher paid jobs and seek opportunities to generate revenue for the Council to support the services residents’ value.”

Stephen Lancaster (aged 49) is the Managing Director of Penrith Farmers and Kidd’s PLC and has worked in the local land and property sector for the past 25 years. Stephen said: “I am delighted to be part of this new venture and am excited to be working with the Directors of The Heart of Cumbria Ltd to maximise the opportunities this new commercial company can bring to Eden.”

Gareth Owens (aged 46) has 25 years of experience primarily working for local authorities in a legal capacity. He has specialist skills in helping deliver projects including housing for local authority trading companies. Gareth said: “I am very pleased to have been appointed to the Board of Heart of Cumbria and look forward to trying to make a positive difference in Eden.”

The Heart of Cumbria Ltd has an outline business plan that has been agreed by its Directors and approved by the District Council, who are the company’s shareholders. The aims of the company outlined in the business plan are to:

  • To support the provision of affordable housing;
  • To support the creation and generation of growth and higher paid jobs within the District; or
  • The Company provide a minimum of 3% return on any Council investment.

Eden District Council has agreed to loan a sum of £1,000,000 in its 2017/18 capital programme to the Heart of Cumbria Ltd. This funding will be allocated in the following ways:

  • £500,000 to be made for the provision of affordable homes which will be purchased by the Company, owned by the Company and managed by it. The Company in return would pay 3% of monies drawn down when income is received in any future financial year.
  • £500,000 to be made available to purchase commercial and/or residential investment property which once purchased, a 3% return on capital invested will be repaid to the Council.

The areas of activity that the company is seeking to explore include:

  • Buying and managing housing for people in need, for people who are key workers and also market housing
  • Buying and managing commercial property and/or residential property generating an income above the threshold of 3%
  • Development schemes involving non-Council owned land
  • Developing schemes involving Council land
  • Renewable energy schemes

For more information about the Heart of Cumbria Ltd email: [email protected]

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