Basildon Borough Council is planning to sell a five acre parcel of vacant land for £1 to a 26-year old property developer who plans to construct a 100-room four star hotel on the site.
A local Conservative councillor anonymously described the sale as ‘ridiculous’, saying: “We are raising Council Tax but then, on the other hand, we are just giving away assets for peanuts.”
Basildon Borough Council borrowed over £1 million in 2017 to buy the plot, adjacent to Basildon Golf Course, from the government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) which was replaced in January 2018 by Homes England and the Regulator of Social Housing.
In 2017, the HCA had an offer from a developer who wanted to build a budget hotel with a fast food drive through area but the council declined. The agreed four star hotel will be costly for the taxpayer, who will be expected to fork out £500,000 to help the preferred developer, Bran Investments, with building expenses. A viability study carried out by Bran themselves concluded that there is sufficient demand for another hotel in the area although the room rates would not be as high as first anticipated and therefore not as profitable.
Bran Investments is run by 26 year old Ashish Goyal but he did not wish to comment.
Bran, which was previously known as Green Leaf Home Care Homes Ltd, wants Basildon Borough Council to accept the low offer because of the substantial roadworks that will need to be carried out in order to connect the hotel to the area surrounding it, stating that it is ‘essential’ to make the hotel work.
Kerry Smith is the independent councillor elected for Nethermayne, where the land in question is located. He said the council was practically gifting this piece of land to the developers. Councillor Smith has asked conservative councillor Chris Jackman, who is the Audit and Risk Committee’s chairman, to allow an investigation into this use of public money and get ‘the best deal for taxpayers’. The whole debate ensued when the head of the Basildon Borough Council gave the press access to some of his emails after a disagreement with councillor Smith.
Councillors against the development have stated that the council should have gone back to the drawing board and revisited the other five bidders to see if they could get a better deal. Basildon Borough Council said that the hotel will create approximately 50 jobs once opened and up to 100 people could be hired during the building process. It said that it is normal for councils to sell plots for low prices to enable them to eventually secure the building of a high quality development.
Make sure you’re getting value for money, by asking a Chartered Surveyor for a building survey when buying property in Basildon or elsewhere in England and Wales.