The controversial and fiercely debated sale of Harrogate Borough Council’s (HBC) Crescent Gardens offices looks set to take an important step forward this month.
Last July, HBC voted in favour of constructing a new £9million headquarters at Knapping Mount as well as selling off the landmark Crescent Gardens offices.
On Monday, Cabinet members met to discuss a number of the bids that had been received for the offices before putting forward a favourite buyer.
The Cabinet’s recommendation will now be considered by the full council at a meeting on Wednesday, September 14.
The sale of the site, valued at between £2million and £5million in 2015, has prompted much debate in the town with calls to preserve the historic building.
Monday’s meeting was held behind closed doors and Coun Graham Swift, HBC’s cabinet member for Tourism, Economic Development and Enterprise, said the report contained “sensitive commercial information”.
He said: “The report details bid submissions, how the bids were evaluated, and the outcome of the evaluation exercise.
“While a number of bids have been received and evaluated, commercial negotiations are still on going.
“Should the bid information enter the public domain, it may impact on these negotiations and, as such, it is not in the public interest to release this information at this stage.
“We understand the public’s fondness for the building and are keen to ensure that the successful bid reflects its history and recognises the contribution Crescent Gardens makes to the character of the town. We are confident that this can be achieved.”
Coun Swift explained that the bids had been considered based on the financial offers, the bidders’ experience and their financial standings.
He added that it was important the council were “satisfied” that funding would be available to ensure the proposed development took place.
In November last year, the council’s plans to sell the landmark offices to their preferred bidder fell through before it was re-marketed over spring and summer this year.
The council’s chosen buyer was thought to be a developer planning to convert the grand building into a hotel.
Lib Dem leader Coun Pat Marsh has previously called for Crescent Gardens to be retained in part as a public building, and raised concerns with converting the building into a five-star hotel.
The potential sale of the building will be subject to the granting of planning permission and Coun Swift said residents would be able to comment on the plans as they are brought forward.