The leader of Hastings Borough Council said ‘it is not surprising’ the council spent almost £900,000 more on a site earmarked for an Aldi supermarket than the previous owner.
The site, at 311-323 Bexhill Road, St Leonards, was purchased by the council earlier this year along with full planning permission for the demolition of the existing buildings – a Peugeot garage and supermarket – and the erection of two buildings.
One of these buildings will be home to the new supermarket.
The other building will house two smaller units which, according to Aldi, will be used for retail purposes to serve the community – possibly including a café.
The planning application was submitted to Hastings Borough Council by Tarncourt Ambit Properties and approved by the council’s planning committee in June this year.
On September 18 the council purchased 323 Bexhill Road – the Peugeot building – and land adjoining 311 Bexhill Road for £2.9 million – an increase of 44 per cent on the £2million Tarncourt Ambit spent for the site in June this year, according to Hastings Borough Conservative councillor Rob Lee.
On October 4, the council then bought the adjoining 311 Bexhill Road – formally The Bulverhythe pub and now St Mary’s Food Market – from Tarncourt Ambit Properties for £600,000.
It is not known how much Tarncourt Ambit spent on 311 Bexhill Road.
Responding to this, Peter Chowney, the leader of Hastings Borough Council, said the council paid a higher price as it was purchasing a ‘fully-developed site’
Councillor Chowney said: “When the land was sold last July, the price paid was presumably for the site only.
“The council is paying for a fully developed site, with brand new buildings, infrastructure, and tenants signed up to long leases.
“It’s not surprising that cost a lot more.”
Writing in the Hastings Observer on November 1, Councillor Lee described the council’s decision to purchase the site as ‘staggering and hard to comprehend’.
He wrote: “It is difficult to believe that the site including the old Bulverhythe Pub has increased in value so rapidly.”
Then he added: “The finance for the purchasing of the land and the construction is all borrowed money taken out on a 50 year term meaning that it will be our grandchildren that will be paying back through their taxes this costly error of the council.”