SELBY councillors have agreed a £3.5 million investment pot to be spent on commercial property around the district.

The money is part of the district council’s “Programme for Growth”, with a total of £7.67 million earmarked to be spent on an economic development programme in coming years

On Thursday evening the council’s executive committee signed off on seven new projects despite some worries about the scale of work.

District council leader Mark Crane said: “There are significant sums of money being spent here, and hopefully making a difference in places in Selby.

“The issue I have is whether we are biting off a little bit too much and should slightly slim down our programme.

“We only have so many people, and like to have projects we are confident we can deliver in the required time span.”

He backed the commercial property fund and said the council was desperate to make progress on the major brownfield development site Olympia Park - which is in line for another £240,000 of council money on top of recent £8.9 million in government investment.

Papers show the council wants the commercial property fund to provide a direct return through rental income, and to give it a way of influencing growth in the district.

A written business case for the £3.5 million fund says the empty NatWest banks in Selby and Tadcaster are examples of investments that would let the council influence the areas, and deliver a tangible long term financial return.

It adds: “Equally the opportunity to invest in purpose build industrial units to fulfil a specific market need that is not being satisfied by the free market can be considered when both a specific demand exists (e.g. small scale industrial units between 5,000 and 10,000sq.ft) and the opportunity to invest arises such as availability at a Strategic Development site e.g. Sherburn2.”

The council has set the whole Programme for Growth a return on investment target of £250,000, and deputy leader Cllr John Mackman said he was worried that too few projects they would actually generate any income.

Without that income the programme would not be sustainable in the future, he added.

The other six projects being discussed included a programme of events to celebrate Selby at 950 - incorporating a bid for the Tour de Yorkshire in 2019 - earmarked for a total of £200,000.

There was also £60,000 for marketing Selby as a place to invest; £230,000 for developing council-owned land including Burn airfield; another £230,000 for improving the New Lane area and £100,000 for small business advice and grants to boost High Streets in the district.

The executive backed the proposals.

The decision saw £2.5 million added to the commercial property investment fund, on top of £1 million already approved in January.