Harborough council backs its decision to pay out £920,000 for a three-bedroom bungalow and its land
The leader faced questions from some councillors - but he said the move is value for money
Harborough council leader Phil King has backed the council's decision to pay out £920,000 of taxpayers’ cash for a three-bedroom bungalow and its land to help seal the deal for a controversial new housing scheme in Market Harborough.
The Conservative council boss stuck to his guns as he was asked by Cllr Roger Dunton why the authority had forked out the huge sum for a home valued at £303,000 on property website Zoopla.
The council’s move to pay £920,000 for 87 Granville Street to help drive through the under-fire Naseby Square redevelopment has made headlines across the East Midlands after the story was broken by the Harborough Mail last week.
Cllr King told Welland ward member Cllr Dunton, a Liberal Democrat, at a virtual full council meeting last night (Monday): “I can confirm that the council acquired 87 Granville Street on 20 August 2019.
“A report on the acquisition of this site, including the purchase price and development value, was considered by the Executive in exempt session on 8 April 2019.
“A copy of that report is available to all members to view.
“In addition, an email was sent to all members on 24 April 2019 that the contract was to be signed and the decision was reported to council on 24 June 2019, as part of the Executive report.”
He insisted the massive price tag was worth paying in order to be able to sell the traditional old people’s Naseby Square complex to Platform Housing to demolish and rework.
“Whilst the detail of the acquisition was considered in private session, I can add that the price paid, £920,000, reflected the value of the land as part of the overall site development value.
“The plan in Appendix A of the Executive Report, considered on 8 April 2019, indicated that the acquisition of this property enabled the construction of an additional 12 dwellings,” said Cllr King.
“This additional land has enabled the whole site to potentially deliver 100 per cent affordable houses (23 affordable rent and 15 shared ownership, providing a total of 38 properties) on a sustainable housing site close to the town centre site for people who are in need of housing.”
Asked about the council’s purchase of 87 Granville Street, a Platform Housing spokeswoman told the Mail today: “In respect of your specific queries, I can confirm that Platform Housing are not in a position to make any comment regarding the business of Harborough District Council.
“I can also confirm that Platform Housing will not disclose any commercially-sensitive information regarding the acquisition of the specific site.
“I can, however, confirm that whilst there is no specific programme of works currently in place, it is anticipated that we will be on site to start delivering these much-needed affordable new homes by late autumn.”
Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be left scratching their heads at this mind-boggling spending decision.
"It still isn't clear why the council paid way over the odds for this property and it comes after residents have seen big increases in their Council Tax bills.
"The council must come clean with taxpayers about why it forked out so much cash."
The bungalow, which also boasts outbuildings, has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two reception rooms.
It is now set to be demolished by the council after the blueprint to build 38 ‘affordable’ homes on Naseby Square got the go-ahead in February after a 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 – which owns the rest of the site.
The blueprint to redevelop the elderly people’s beloved housing and community hub – which dates back to the 1950s – has sparked fury, mass petitions and protests in Market Harborough since it surfaced in 2018.