Council gives its reasons for paying £920,000 for a bungalow in Harborough currently valued at £303,000

After keeping quiet about the matter, the council has now spoken following our story this week

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 9:38 am
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 9:40 am
87 Granville Street in Market Harborough. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Harborough District Council paid £920,000 for a bungalow in Market Harborough currently valued at £303,000 because it wants to create more “affordable housing” in the town.

The council said it spent over £900,000 of taxpayers’ money to buy 87 Granville Street as part of the controversial redevelopment of the traditional old people’s Naseby Square complex.

And the authority insisted it will more than recover the cash it’s paid out after sealing an under-fire deal with Platform Housing Group to build 38 homes at the site off Stuart Road on the town’s Southern Estate.

The house and land at 87 Granville Street. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Harborough council has reacted as as it faces a question from ward councillor Roger Dunton at a full council meeting on Monday (April 26) about its purchase of 87 Granville Street – which is now set to be demolished.

The story was broken by the Harborough Mail on Tuesday – and has since triggered media headlines across the East Midlands.

A council spokesman told the Mail: “The question from Cllr Dunton will be answered at the full council meeting on Monday April 26.

“In the meantime, we confirm that the council acquired 87 Granville Street in 2019 as part of a wider land assembly project to enable the provision of a wider development of affordable housing in Market Harborough with Platform Housing Group.

87 Granville Street in Market Harborough. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“This scheme was originally planned to deliver a mix of affordable and private housing.

“However, the scheme has now been developed to provide 23 affordable dwellings for social rent and 15 for shared ownership.

“There is also a Section 106 Agreement to provide further benefits for the town.”

The spokesman added: “The council has agreed to sell the site to Platform Housing Group to enable them to develop it as an all-affordable scheme.

“This is a sustainable housing site close to the town centre site for people who are in need of housing.

“Through the terms of this deal the council will receive a capital receipt which will cover more than the original sum paid for all the land acquisitions.

“Creating more affordable housing for residents in the Harborough district is a key priority in the council’s corporate plan.”

Cllr Dunton, who represents the town’s Welland ward, has put this question to the full council meeting on Monday: “From information provided on public record from the Land Registry Office I see that Harborough District Council are the owners of 87 Granville Street.

“Can I ask the leader of the council, Cllr King, if the District Valuer was involved in this purchase?

“I understand from the information provided that the council paid £920,000 on the 3rd of February 2020,” says the veteran councillor.

“Again on a publicly-available website it was valued at £350,000.

“If the answer is ‘yes’ there will be a full and unredacted comment document available.

“If the answer is ‘no’ then why did the council pay almost £600,000 above the going rate?”

He is being supported by his Liberal Democrat colleague for Welland ward, Cllr Julie Simpson.

Cllr Simpson told the Mail: “I fully support the submission of Cllr Dunton's question to full council as we are talking here of public money.

“It is not unreasonable to ask the question as to why, on the face of it, the expenditure is larger than would be anticipated for a similar property and details as to why this would be appropriate.”

The Mail has obtained a copy of the official Property Register document detailing the council’s purchase of 87 Granville Street on the town’s Southern Estate.

The paperwork, Title Number LT520021, shows that Harborough council paid the occupants £920,000 on August 20, 2019.

According to leading property website Zoopla, 87 Granville Street is currently worth £303,000.

The bungalow, which sits on a big plot and also boasts outbuildings, has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two reception rooms.

It is now set to be knocked down after the blueprint to build 38 ‘affordable’ homes on Naseby Square got the go-ahead in February after a bitter three-year-battle.

Some 16 bungalows will also be knocked down at Naseby Square after the council sold its own land there to Platform Housing Group – which owns the rest of the site.

The scheme to redevelop the elderly people’s beloved housing and community hub – which dates back to the 1950s – has sparked fury in Market Harborough since it first surfaced in 2018.