Dorset Council has considered setting up its own development company to more profitably manage some of the assets it owns.

But deputy council leader Peter Wharf says that for the moment the authority is not interested in the idea – but has not ruled it out for the future.

“We have considered development company options in the past and might again in the future but there is little justification for the administrative effort and cost for the projects we are currently pursuing.  This may change in the future as plans for our assets evolve,” he told Dorset Council's February meeting in response to a question from Chickerell councillor John Worth.

He had asked if it would be more worthwhile to set up a development company to maximise profits and create an ongoing income, rather than sell off land and buildings inherited from previous councils when local government was reorganised in Dorset almost a year ago.

“After all you can only sell an asset once whilst a prudent investment can keep giving,” said Cllr Worth.

Cabinet brief holder for finance Cllr Tony Ferrari (Littlemoor & Preston) said that the council would need a mix of both capital receipts and revenue income from its property assets.

He said those which could produce strong income growth included several industrial estates across the county which the council owns.

Work is currently underway on producing and assessing a list of council assets which might be disposed of, a process which will include local consultations before final decisions are made.

“The sale of income producing assets is generally only proposed where there is considered to be a significant risk to the income stream with a lack of growth potential or where there may be an opportunity to release enhanced value as highlighted by the proposed asset sales list.

“Generally the type of assets identified on the list do not have obvious potential to obtain change of use to generate a positive income stream without significant investment and development risk,” said Mr Ferrari. "We will be looking at the investment potential of the properties, together with development potential, including economic regeneration.”