The Northamptonshire Police headquarters site could have been sold for £6 million if it had been auctioned to a housing developer rather than being used as a school, sale documents have revealed.
In one of his last acts as Northants Police and Crime Commissioner, Adam Simmonds announced he had sold Wootton Hall to the Education Funding Agency for £3.45 million.
From September this year, the site will be used to house a new ‘all through’ school for pupils aged form four to 19 years old.
A report released with an Executive Order signed by Mr Simmonds on March 29, reveals the land was valued at £6 million by Savills, if the existing buildings were demolished and it was used for residential development.
The estate agent valued the site at £4.65 million if the principal buildings and formal gardens were retained with the rest of the site developed for residential purposes.
Savills gave a £3.3 million valuation for the site being sold for education or community purposes.
However, the sale of the land was complicated by the fact Northamptonshire County Council owns the road that gives access to Wootton Hall and could therefore demand a “ransom” payment of up to half the sale price.
This would mean the county council could have received up to £3 million if the site had been sold for housing.
But the report states the county council agreed to forgo the ransom if the site was used for a school as it would help provide pupil places, one of the local authorities statutory duties.
This means the £3.45 million the police and crime commissioner received for the sale of Wootton Hall was likely to have been higher than he would have received if the site was sold for housing.
The report concludes that the sale to the Education Funding Agency is the “most appropriate option” for the PCC as a residential scheme would take longer to achieve, cost more and be more “risky” in terms of being able to achieve the market value price.
The report states: “The combination of the uncertainty surrounding the assumptions on the valuations and the ability of NCC to leverage a ransom in the event of disposal of the site for a non-educational use suggest the certainty of obtaining £3.45m plus the benefit of an overage provision to help secure best consideration for the PCC in the event of a future disposal for non-educational use appears to be the most appropriate option for the PCC.”
A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said the agreement of the sale of Wootton Hall represented “best overall value” to the taxpayer.
A spokesman said: “The county council has agreed to allow access across its land for this use, and instead of seeking a financial payment, has recognised the value of the site for Free School use - which the council would have to provide itself if Wootton Hall were not available - and also the value of the continued joint promotion of the site for redevelopment.
“In the county council’s view, the agreement with the OPCC represents best value overall for the council tax payer.”