The dramatic collapse of a deal to sell the former civic headquarters in Harrogate must not go under the radar.
The borough council has revealed it has pulled out of the sale of the Crescent Gardens building to a local developer following “repeated promises and missed deadlines” over plans for its conversion into luxury apartments – and it is not the only time a sale has fallen through since the authority announced plans to sell the property in 2014.
A senior councillor has said he will demand an investigation into the most recent collapse, after a two-year stalemate, and The Yorkshire Post echoes his calls. An inquiry of the utmost transparency must now be held to examine how such a high-profile development can crumble and throw the building’s future into doubt once more.
The handling of the sales process, both this time and the first – in 2015, by all parties must be closely scrutinised. Lessons can, and must, be learned. Especially given that money from the sale of the site in the past five years could have been a financial boost for the public authority – and in turn, the residents of its North Yorkshire borough.
The councillor said he hoped a “sensible person” would purchase the site and build on its grandeur, whilst another, the authority’s deputy leader, said the time had come to “take action” and “to realise the value of the building”.
It is a sentiment that certainly appears overdue, however finding an appropriate buyer and ensuring a smooth sale and development process must now become a priority, alongside a warranted inquiry.