Work on Garstang’s biggest town centre development since the building of the Booths store nine years ago is expected to begin this autumn.
But the amount of cash building owner Wyre Council had hoped to get by selling the old council offices to developers planning the part housing / part retail scheme may be much less than the £1.6 million originally hoped for.
A pending deal, backed at a private meeting of Wyre’s cabinet last week, is understood to involve a figure under £1million – ie at least £600,000 than the previously mooted figure.
The confidential report presented to councillors remains secret - but a few details have appeared in the minutes of the behind-closed-doors session.
The minutes of the meeting reveal Wyre has approved entering into a deal for conditional contract with Keyworker Homes. The minutes mention the disposal of freehold land at the site – thought to be the site of the old council offices, the former FIG Tree café and part of High Street car park.
Keyworker also looks likely to have the option to lease up to 36 car parking spaces from Wyre.
A source told “The Courier” the figure discussed at the meeting was under £1million – considerably less than the originally discussed £1.6 million shown on earlier council documents leaked to this newspaper two years ago.
There had been speculation in the media that the money Wyre got from Keyworker would be less than the £1.6million initial figure because the scheme had been pared down, with the erasing of a stand-alone apartment block on the car park. That part of the plans was scrubbed after a public protest.
Wyre now intends to “declare part of High Street car park surplus in order to facilitate the redevelopment” of the old council offices.
In a statement to be made at tomorrow’s full meeting of Wyre Council, Cllr Alan Vincent resources portfolio holder, says cash raised “will be used to contribute towards future capital investment.” The statement does not say where in Wyre the money raised from the sale will be used.
His statement adds: “Work is expected to start on-site in the Autumn.”
Approached by The Courier on the financial side of the deal, Wyre Council declined to comment.
But Wyre added: “Long stay parking provision within Garstang has been a concern for residents so we wanted to ensure that a sufficient level of long stay car parking continues to be available.
“The car park is going to be reconfigured but over 80% of the car parking spaces are to be retained and will continue to be managed by the council in the same way as the car park operates now.”
The plans for the site include the conversion of the old offices into 18 flats, plus a retail element which maybe either be a midi-supermarket or shops.
The project is likely to take about one year two months, involving the demolition of the extension (formerly the FIG Tree café and once the tourist office) and the internal conversion into flats. For some of the time part of the car park may have to be closed.