Harrogate Borough Council have said that they will consider inviting further expressions of interest for the purchase of its Crescent Gardens offices in Harrogate, after failing to reach agreement with its preferred buyer.
Marketing of the council’s offices at Crescent Gardens began in October 2014. Expressions of interest were received in the spring and the bids were evaluated for their capital value and economic benefit, after which a preferred bidder was chosen.
In July, full council voted to proceed with plans for the council to relocate to a new purpose-built headquarters at Knapping Mount. Councillors also approved the preferred bidder for the purchase of its Crescent Gardens offices. Since then, commercial negotiations have been proceeding with the preferred bidder.
While significant progress has been made, the council and the preferred bidder have been unable to reach final agreement on all detailed points. The council says it wants to get the best deal for the district and its residents. Continuing to negotiate with the preferred bidder will not achieve this.
Last month, work began on the creation of the council’s new headquarters at Knapping Mount. Yorkshire based Harry Fairclough Construction is the main contractor for the project.
The preparatory work is expected to last for six weeks and involves preparing the site so that demolition work can begin. Construction of the new headquarters will commence in the new year. The new building will be completed in spring 2017.
Councillor Graham Swift, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Tourism, Economic Development and Enterprise said:
It is important that the decision we make regarding the sale of the council’s Crescent Gardens building is the right one for the residents of our district. It is always better to make the right decision rather than a quick decision.
While we have been able to reach agreement on a lot of points, we have been unable to conclude negotiations with the preferred bidder to our mutual satisfaction. As a consequence, I will be seeking approval of full council to re-market our Crescent Gardens offices over spring/summer 2016.
There is strong demand for Crescent Gardens and re-marketing our offices is the right approach. We will seek to maximise the value of this asset within a re-use that fits with our heritage and location delivering a real economic benefit to the town and district.
The re-marketing of the Crescent Gardens offices will not impact on the building of new council headquarters. The move will benefit the Council Tax payers of the district. Council services will operate from a single site rather than five separate locations, as a consequence we will be able to offer better customer service, reduce duplication on each site, share resources and streamline processes and management arrangements. It will allow us to achieve savings of around £1 million per year. This money can be re-invested in front line services such as our award-winning parks and gardens, improving recycling, council housing, sports centres and swimming pools.
Further information on the council’s office accommodation strategy can be found at: www.harrogate.gov.uk/cpi/Pages/new-Harrogate-Civic-Headquarters.aspx