A controversial partnership which has seen land sold in Allerdale for development has resulted in a £250,000 windfall for the borough council.

The Allerdale Investment Partnership (AIP) was set up by the authority with IAG to sell off surplus land and has resulted in the building of Lidl in Maryport and plans submitted for more than 300 new homes in Workington.

The £250,000 is the first distribution of funds from the partnership, and council leader Alan Smith has pledged it will be spent on projects including helping the regeneration of Maryport.

It is hoped it will be the first of several distribution payments from projects across the area.

Councillor Smith said: “We plan to spend it on key council capital priorities across the borough including our plans to regenerate Maryport.

"We’re already seeing immense benefits from the completed Lidl development in the town, with 50 jobs created locally and council now receiving substantial business rates.”

Each partner received a dividend from AIP.

Howard Bright, spokesman for Allerdale Investment Partnership, said: “We hope this will be the first of many as we continue to help regenerate disused and surplus land in Allerdale.”

Lidl was completed in 2016. Work has also begun at the Mandale Homes development of 35 homes in Ashfield Road South in Workington and social landlord Home Group and Lovell have submitted a planning application for another 267 homes.

The partnership has attracted criticism from some people, who were concerned that the authority was selling off prime land for less than the market value.

Coun Smith said: “When either partner makes an investment in AIP, such as land from the council which is independently valued, then AIP issues a loan note for that value.

"When AIP receives income from sales and development activity, AIP’s board allocates some of that income to costs, some of it to fund future activity, and some to repay some of the outstanding loan notes.

"The £250,000 is the first payment towards the council’s loan notes."

In December 2018 the Allerdale Investment Partnership announced it had secured new investment and support from the founders and owners of IAG - a fund administrator founded in 2000 with close to £12 billion under administration. IAG works in a variety of sectors, but with a particular focus on property and development in the UK, from care homes and leisure to offices and shopping centres - and brings expertise and industry contacts to help develop the AIP’s sites.