Council to sell controversial allotment land for £65,000
THE saga of the Wookey Hole allotments appears to be coming to an end.
There has been a year-long dispute over whether or not to put a children's play area and car park next to the allotments on Glencot Lane.
After months of pressure from residents, who think roads make the scheme dangerous, St Cuthbert (Out) Parish Council have decided to sell the land instead.
Paul Harris, the owner of Glencot House, has made an offer to buy the pony paddocks next to the site – therefore making further development impossible.
The chair of the finance committee, Councillor James Drummond, put the offer to the council.
He said: "We received an offer from Mr Harris in August. It was for £56,000, which is the amount we'd have to pay back to the government body we borrowed from to buy the land."
When this offer was made the council set up a group to discuss the offer.
They went back to Mr Harris offering him a five year lease on the land at the rate that they have to repay the loan – approximately £3,500 per year.
Mr Harris replied that he was not interested in a lease, only in buying the land.
"I went to see him and said that he knew the feeling of the council and if he wanted to go on with this he'd have to make us an offer we couldn't refuse," said Mr Drummond.
He then explained that Mr Harris had come back with a final offer of £65,000. In his letter to the council Mr Harris also said that the only reason that he was buying the land was to protect it from future development and that he might be willing to allow some allotments on part of it.
The council was divided on whether to accept the offer or not.
Chairman Sandra Ford said: "If we're going to sell it surely we should open it up to other people who want to buy it. Otherwise people might think there was something funny going on."
Councillor Jim Reeves presented figures which claimed that including the offer would leave the council around £75,000 better off.
This took into account the loan repayments and the £8,000 profit on the site.
After the debate had gone on for some time Councillor Jenny Henderson said: "Can we just accept this amazing offer? No one else is going to offer anywhere near that offer."
At this point Mr Drummond said that they would only be agreeing in principal to sell. The details of the sale would still have to be negotiated.
In the end the members voted eight to three in favour of the sale.