Councillors set to agree sale of land earmarked for major development in Wellingborough

The land proposed for sale is behind the Drill Hall, which has been excluded from the current proposals
The land proposed for sale is behind the Drill Hall, which has been excluded from the current proposals
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Councillors will be asked to agree to the sale of a plot of land earmarked for major development in Wellingborough town centre.

Wellingborough Council has been working on proposals for the regeneration of the High Street/Jacksons Lane site for a number of years, but reasons including funding and securing key plots of land has meant it has taken time.

However, the proposed development could take a step forward if members of the council’s resources committee agree to enter into a sale agreement with Keepmoat at a meeting tonight (Wednesday).

It comes after councillors took the decision last July to stay with Keepmoat as the preferred developer, but adjust the proposed scheme to exclude the Drill Hall, Queen’s Hall and car park from the land they will sell to them.

They made this decision on the basis that there was a desire to dispose of the majority of the site to Keepmoat for the purposes of bringing forward a mixed tenure residential development.

The retained land, comprising the area around the Drill Hall and Queen’s Hall, will be considered for other uses and a report will come back to the committee at a later date.

Tonight’s meeting could see the committee agree to enter into a sale agreement with Keepmoat subject to a number of conditions, including that the price payable is a minimum of £2 million.

Keepmoat has developed a revised scheme design, which it will be formally submitting through the planning process shortly.

A report prepared for councillors to consider at today’s meeting states: “It is important to note that the land price has not yet been agreed and this will only be determined once planning permission has been granted for the revised scheme.”

The report also says time is a consideration with regards to selling now or waiting.

It states: “The highest sales price for the land is likely to be achieved by inviting competitive bids however, this risk needs to be considered against the time and financial cost saving advantages associated with not remarketing the site.

“An early commencement of development has been an important consideration for members.

“The council have tried to mitigate against this risk by stipulating a minimum price for the land and the agreement is conditional on the council being satisfied that best consideration has been achieved.

“There is a risk that if the land is retained by the council there will be a delay in housing delivery from this site which could impact on our five-year housing land position as a new purchaser is sought or a new procurement process entered into.

“If the market fails again then the minimum price may not be achieved at some future date.”

Tonight’s resources committee meeting starts at 7pm at Swanspool House in Wellingborough.