Essex

Basildon Council to sell land it bought for £1m for £1

Basildon Council Image copyright Google
Image caption Basildon Council says the £1 deal is good news for the area

A council is to sell a plot of land it bought for £1m two years ago to the developer of a four-star hotel - for £1.

Basildon Borough Council's oversight and strategy committee approved the scheme for land next to Basildon Golf Club, which will also see it pay an estimated £500,000 for an access road.

The council said the project was "an exciting step forward for the area".

But critics have described it as a "bad deal".

The authority bought the land in March 2017 for more than £1m, according to council papers seen by the BBC, in a bid to ensure a "high quality" hotel was built on the site.

'Back to the drawing board'

After a bidding process, Bran Investments was selected as the council's preferred developer.

The company carried out a study which found that while there was demand for a hotel, the anticipated room rate was below the original expectation. This led it to revise its proposal and offer a notional purchase price of £1, according to the council report.

The council, which can sell land for less than its market value if the project boosts the borough's economy, said the hotel would create 50 jobs once open and 100 people could be employed during the construction process.

Conservative council leader Andrew Baggott said: "This is an important and exciting step forward for the area and the borough."

Basildon Council independent councillor Kerry Smith said: "This is a bad deal - it doesn't weigh up.

"I think they need to go back to the drawing board and open the bids again and let's see who we get.

"This sixth bidder has been offered the £1 deal. The other five, who they have totally rejected, haven't been offered this deal which is costing taxpayers money."

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