A Kettering car dealer has delayed the sale of a town centre car park – by offering 50 per cent more than an agreed sale price at the 11th hour.
Kettering Council’s executive committee met on Wednesday (January 18) and was set to sell Queen Street car park to Green Print Homes for £300,000.
The sale would have paved the way for a five-storey, 50-home apartment block for over-55s at the derelict Hogs Head site.
But Mark Beddows, who runs the adjacent Beddows Motor Company in Green Lane, made an offer of £450,000 to councillors at the meeting.
Mr Beddows has been critical of previous attempts to develop the site – in 2011 he vowed to stay put after plans were passed which would have seen his business built over by developers.
Now he has hit out at the lack of consultation over the sale of the land.
He said: “They had pretty much done a deal but nobody knew about it.
“I feel £300,000 is way below market value and we’ve been in a position to put an offer in for some time, so doing so isn’t a problem for us.
“If it’s a public amenity, surely it would go to public consultation?
“If it wasn’t for the fact I knew some people who put us in touch I wouldn’t have had a clue.”
Councils are legally obliged to obtain best consideration for the land.
A report prepared for councillors said the car park brought in revenue of £20,000 a year, although Mr Beddows questioned this.
After Mr Beddows’ offer the council delayed making a decision to allow officers to investigate the new bid.
Now he says it is a waiting game to see if the council accepts his offer.
He said: “Fifteen years ago when I was trying to buy this land it would have been to expand but that’s not the case now.
“If I bought it I would move us to a site out of town and then the whole piece of land could be developed on.
“I do not know if my offer will be accepted but it’s stopped it in its tracks.”
The Hogs Head site currently has planning permission for a hotel, but developer Tykes has indicated it no longer wishes to proceed and will sell the land.
Permission will expire in 2018 if work does not begin before then.
Opposition leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw (Lab, William Knibb) criticised the council for trying to ‘rush through’ the sale.
He said: “Once again this seems to be a decision being rushed through by the executive without anybody else’s opinion being taken into consideration.
“Surely this would be a perfect issue for some pre-scrutiny which would have allowed other councillors to have looked into some of the facts and to have passed on their comments to the executive.
“Certainly this might mean something being done with the boarded-up land at the bottom of the site which has been an eyesore and blight on our town centre for so long, but we will be losing 32 public car parking spaces.
“Can we afford to keep losing these spaces?”
A Kettering Council spokesman said: “The committee agreed to defer a decision on the proposal in front of them, to allow time for officers to understand and consider this additional offer.”