Council sell-off properties revealed

DETAILS of a number of publicly-owned land and buildings set to be sold off to the tune of nearly £20 million by a west Suffolk council have been released.

DETAILS of a number of publicly-owned land and buildings set to be sold off to the tune of nearly £20 million by a west Suffolk council have been released.

Earlier this month the EADT revealed St Edmundsbury Borough Council intended to sell off a collection of buildings and land as part of its assets disposal programme.

Details as to which properties and land were involved in the sell-off, which is already underway, had been kept secret because they were deemed commercially sensitive.

But following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, in which the EADT presented a public interest case for the list to be revealed, the council has revealed a number of the properties affected - though not their estimated values.

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The properties include the Victory Lodge, Manor House and the borough offices. Land to be sold includes the recreation site in Moreton Hall, land south of Millfields Way in Chalkstone and a plot east of Moreton Hall.

The sell-off of publicly owned land is broken down over a four year period stretching to 2009-2010.

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In this financial year, the council plans to make £7.73 million followed by £4.76 million next year, £4.9 million in 2008/2009 and £2.25 million in 2009/2010.

In her response to the EADT's freedom of information request, the council's Teresa Halliday said some of the properties and land listed under the council's asset disposal plans remained secret because their disclosure “would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of the council”.

She said the values of the land and properties listed for sale was being withheld. She added: “The estimated sale prices of properties to be put on the open market as well as properties where the council be negotiating (including with individuals) to obtain the best price for them.

“The release of this information could co-operate to the disadvantage of the council in that it will, or will be likely to, affect the council's negotiations now or in the future.

“Although there is a strong public interest in openness, this does not necessarily override all other considerations.

“The council will endeavour to obtain the best price available for its assets and disclosing the information requested is likely to prejudice this.

“The council has also considered that the disposals programme covers a long period of time into the future and as such to disclose the information would be likely to result in any future negotiations being prejudiced.

“This is not in the best interest for the public purse and, therefore, the council's opinion is that the public interest in withholding this part of the information requested outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.”

l Addresses of properties and land to be sold off by the council:

l Homefield Business Park

l West Front, Bury St Edmunds

l Kingshall Street, Rougham

l Sandy Lane, Rougham

l 11 Well Street, Bury St Edmunds

l Former Moreton Hall Community Centre

l Land east of Moreton Hall

l Station Yard, Haverhill

l Land north of Millfields Way

l Jacqueline Close

l Land south of Millfields Way, Chalkstone

l Oakey Ley, Bradfield St George

l Queens Close, Bury St Edmunds

l Victory Lodge, Bury St Edmunds

l Manor House, Bury St Edmunds

l Site E2, Suffolk Park

l Recreation Site, Moretton Hall

l Land east of Moreton Hall

l Thetford Road, Coney Weston

l Hawthorn Road, Haverhill

l Borough Offices, Bury St Edmunds

l Shopmobility, Bury St Edmunds

l Western Way, Bury St Edmunds

l Access rights to Suffolk Park

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