The author of the Clarence Dock article (narrowboatworld 27th July) missed what was published in narrowboatworld last January, writes Stuart Mills, Property Director of the Canal & River Trust.
For your readers' convenience, I set out below what I then wrote:
'Crosby was the developer from 2001 until the 2008 opening; in the meantime, the multi-national Lend Lease inherited the development when it bought Crosby in 2005.
British Waterways didn't sell the freehold in 2001. It kept it and granted a 150 year lease to the developer. In doing so British Waterways not only benefits from a rental income of £260k per annum from the developer/owner, it has also received substantial capital payments together with assets to the value of £2.72m which have the potential to provide an additional income stream of around £300k per annum.
In short British Waterways gets around £260,000 a year whether or not the property is let and, in the event that British Waterways' tenant can't pay the £260,000 annual rent, then the 150 year lease could be cancelled, leaving British Waterways with the benefit of all the buildings constructed at someone else's cost together with any mooring income and rental income from its other assets in and around Clarence Dock.
The Income from Clarence Dock is part of the annual rents British Waterways receives from its investment property portfolio. All the net rentals are used towards paying for the maintenance of the waterways'.
It follows that it is not CRT which has suffered from the poor letting of units to tenants which your report mentions. It was Lend Lease who would have suffered when they sold the150 year lease to Allied London. CRT retains the freehold and now receives the annual £260k rent from Allied London and no longer from Lend Lease. This rent is part of the £37m received by British Waterways (England and Wales) in the year to 31th March 2012.
[I must point out that I was aware of the above, but the article did not dispute either lease or rents, but concerned the actual cost of £260 millions, and that it was a failed shopping precinct—Editor.]