Council silent on 'ransom strip' sale in Corbridge
OFFICIALS at Northumberland County Council are remaining tight-lipped over a deal struck with a developer over a “ransom strip” of land in Corbridge.
The county council confirmed this week that an option agreement relating to the sale of land near Corbridge Middle School had been completed with developer Gladman. Outline planning permission for up to 233 homes on land off Milkwell Lane was granted for the scheme last year, despite claims from objectors that the proposed access would put children’s safety at risk.
The council has refused to release details of the deal, suggesting the information was “commercially confidential at this time”.
“The school has had a piece of land sold from under them for a development which the vast majority of people think is far too big,” said businessman, Nick Oliver, who submitted a Freedom of Information request to the county council about the agreement, which was refused.
Mr Oliver, who is also the Conserative candidate for Corbridge in the forthcoming county council election, added: “The council is selling a piece of publicly-owned land to a private developer – surely we have the right to know that it has got value for money and where the proceeds might be spent?”
Chairman of Corbridge Parish Council, Coun. Maurice Hodgson, who is standing as an independent county council candidate next month, said he had continually pointed out the need for additional parking for Corbridge during discussions with the county council, particularly as a result of the development.
He said: “I expect the council to fund the additional parking measures that Corbridge requires using funding it would benefit from via the sale of this strip of land and also the revenue it continues to receive via parking charges.
“I have been repeatedly assured that funding has been ‘ring fenced’ to pay for this.”
A spokesman for Northumberland County Council added: “The council is required to get best value in any property transaction and is confident it has done so in this case. All sale proceeds are pooled so we are unable to make any comment about where the proceeds will be spent.”