Harrogate council needs to ask the public for new ideas for the future of the historic Crescent Gardens offices after it failed to sell the building, the opposition leader has said.
Harrogate Borough Council revealed it has failed to sell the landmark Crescent Gardens office building after a deal with the preferred bidder,thought to be a hotel developer, fell through.
The council has already started work building a new state-of-the-art office complex at Knapping Mount.
It was estimated that the new office project would cost £9million taking into account the money made from the sale of Crescent Gardens, which was valued at between £2million and £5million by an estate agent earlier this year.
In July councillors voted to sell the landmark offices at a heated meeting. The councils chosen buyer was thought to be a developer planning to convert the grand building into a boutique five star hotel.
Lib Dem leader Coun Pat Marsh (Woodlands) said: “This is a good opportunity for the council to really rethink and look at what could be done with the building, this gives them breathing space.
“It would have been a lot better if things hadn’t got to this stage, because now it is building without the money in the bank.”
The 1930s listed building will be put back on the market next year while the empty Victoria House office building on Victoria Avenue is up for sale for £950,000 and the four storey Scottsdale House behind HIC is being advertised by estate agents.
Harrogate’s Civic Society has questioned why the council can’t scrap the planned new build and operate from Crescent Gardens and Springfield house.
Coun Marsh said that Crescent Gardens should be retained in least in part as a public building, and that making it a five star hotel would not serve this purpose.
She said: “People have said there will be a bar or restaurant so the public can still see the building, but meals in five star hotels are out of the reach of a lot of people in this district.”
The sale fell through after months of negotiations and in the meantime building work started on the new offices at Knapping Mount. Coun Swift said: “The re-marketing of the Crescent Gardens offices will not impact on the building of new council headquarters.
“The move will benefit the council tax payers of the district. Council services will operate from a single site rather than five separate locations, as a consequence we will be able to offer better customer service, reduce duplication and share resources. It will allow us to save around £1 million per year.”
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