Landbank squeeze to get council most cash

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A COUNCIL may spend £100,000 on a series of specialist reports and planning applications to ensure it squeezes maximum value from a landbank of development sites it is expecting to sell.

Barnsley Council is in the process of replacing all the town’s comprehensive schools with a smaller number of new colleges, called advanced learning centres, with some going up in existing school grounds and others on new sites.

The changes mean the authority will be left with a series of large development sites, including land in Wombwell and Darfield where existing schools will be replaced with a college on a new site.

But the authority is looking at plans to invest a six-figure sum on work to ensure the sites are as attractive as possible to potential buyers.

The first to be sold is the site of Royston School, which was made redundant by the creation of an ALC at Carlton, a couple of miles away.

Council officials are in the process of negotiating a deal to sell that land, which would be used for a redevelopment scheme involving housing, a food superstore, shops and a family pub, though the proposals still need the approval of councillors.

Officials are looking at the idea of slicing £100,000 from the purchase price, which would be used to pay for work on the other sites to make them as attractive as possible to developers before they were offered for sale.

Members of the authority’s ruling cabinet had been due to examine the proposals, but a report into the scheme was withdrawn from their last meeting and it will now be considered in future.

Barnsley Council has declined to comment about the scheme ahead of the report being submitted to councillors, though a spokesman confirmed the authority had made more than £25m in the past few years by selling off surplus land.