East Cambs Council trading arm reports successful first six months and encouraging signs for growth

Ely Market now being promoted and operated by the council's new trading arm

Ely Market now being promoted and operated by the council's new trading arm - Credit: Archant

A ‘state of the nation’ report on the first six months of the trading arm of East Cambs District Council pinpoints successes in trading at Ely Market and the successful launch of its ‘Palace Green Homes’ branding to build homes.

Emma Grima, commercial director of the East Cambridgeshire Trading Company, says Palace Green Homes is moving ahead with an ethos “that is firmly rooted in community-led development”.

Ms Grima says the company has also acquired the Community Land Trust East brand and website and are developing this as a web portal to inspire and help those setting up a CLT.

The company now has five staff and operates from independent offices within the Grange, headquarters of East Cambs Council.

Highlights of the first six months include:

•Securing planning permission on council owned land at Barton Road for 11 homes with work due to start early next year

Development of 13 homes on council owned land at Soham, with a planning application now being submitted

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•New CLTs being set up in Haddenham, Fordham and Kennett

•Identification of sites with those in Haddenham and Fordham close to being secured

•Delivery of 90 homes as CLT projects within three years

•Developing a pipeline of future projects that will deliver at least 200 extra homes within five years – 125 could be delivered within four years

The sole shareholder in the trading arm is East Cambs Council which has a £5million loan in place to enable the business plan to be achieved. Councillors and officers form the board of directors.

Ms Grima also points to improvements in the running of Ely Markets where the company has a three year operations management contract with the council.

In recent months Ely Markets has launched a new website, increased profits (£2,000 ahead of 2015/16) and produced an action plan going forward. Electrical provision for stall holders is to be considered and a PR consultant, Alex Higgs, drafted in to help promote the markets.

The market area for stall holders could also be extended, says Ms Grima, “without a detrimental impact to the budget”.

Small tenders for grounds maintenance have also begun and work is expected to be offered by Sanctuary Housing. A profit of £47,000 in this area alone is expected in the current year.