Property developers bidding to overturn a council sale of land to Northampton Town Football Club claim the decision is wrong for a “number of reasons”.
Cilldara confirmed on Thursday (June 9) it has filed an application for judicial review of West Northamptonshire Council’s £2.05 million deal with Cobblers for around 20 acres of land adjacent to the club’s Sixfields stadium.
The Warwickshire-based firm had a £3 million counter offer for around 16 acres of the land snubbed by the council’s cabinet in March.
A spokesman for the Warwickshire-based firm did not expand on grounds for the claim but said “there’s lots of reasons”.
The case is set to be heard by a civil court judge but any hearing is likely to be months away, potentially adding to delays in work to finish the club’s eyesore East Stand, which formed part of the Cobblers’ deal.
A council spokesperson said: “We continue to believe that the decision taken by cabinet in March is the right one for both the people of Northampton and for the club.
“We will respond to the proceedings once we have had an opportunity to consider the claim that has been lodged.
“We continue to progress the terms of the contract for the sale of the site as instructed by cabinet.
“However, nothing has been signed as we are still in the process around the asset of community value, which was triggered at the end of February and is ongoing with a six month deadline for bids to be received and then considered.”
One key part of Cilldara’s claim appears to centre on the value of a derelict running track behind Sixfields’ East Stand.
It is understood the company commissioned its own surveyor’s report which estimates the land well above the £820,000 price tag placed on it by the council’s independent experts.
Lambert Smith Hampton insisted its valuation was realistic given the land is mostly toxic former landfill which would cost more than £10 million to clean up before it could be developed.
The running track land was cleaned up when Sixfields was built back in the 1990s.
But it remains tied up in a complicated maze of multiple long leases between the football club and council and is registered as an asset of communnity value, which Lambert Smith Hampton says reduces its worth.
Cilldara did not bid for the running track land but it is believed they will argue that the council did not get best value for its council tax payers.
Councillors initially put on ice a £890,000 deal for the land with Northampton Town agreed in November 2021 after Cilldara stepped in with an improved bid
Cilldara, which specialises in cleaning up similar contaminated sites, has insisted its final bid of £3 million in March was not properly considered before the Cobblers deal was approved.
Strings attached to the agreement included a pledge to finish the eyesore East Stand at Sixfields and a buy-back clause if work is not finished within five years, plus a ‘sell-on clause’ if any of the untreated land is sold at a profit.