NORTHUMBERLAND County Council has refused to bow to renewed pressure to purchase Hexham’s decaying bus station – and claimed the owner’s asking price remains too high.

The prominent town centre site is currently in the hands of developer Dysart, which purchased it following the opening of the replacement bus station in 2016.

However, plans to develop the site never materialised and it has since fallen into disrepair.

The council has been keen to take the site back into public ownership in order to push forward redevelopment, but Dysart’s asking price has remained prohibitive.

The bus station is currently listed on Savills with the price available “on application”, but has been previously listed for £1.5m.

Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting (January 17) of the county council, Hexham East councillor Suzanne Fairless-Aitken praised the ongoing Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) scheme that has revitalised parts of the high street.

However, she pointed out that the bus station let the rest of the town down.

Cllr Fairless-Aitken said: “In Hexham our HAZ scheme is in the final stages of completion and it is looking fabulous. However, there is one glaring omission from this and that is the old bus station, which has been empty and sat in a state of disrepair now for the last seven years.

“The property is currently on the market and residents are really keen for it to be bought back and re-purposed. I’m asking today, would it be possible to purchase the bus station and finally complete the heritage action zone, or is this not best value for our town?”

Cllr Fairless-Aitken also suggested using a Section 215 notice to force the developer to clean up the land. The council’s cabinet member for business, Cllr Wojciech Ploszaj, explained the local authority’s position.

He said: “We are asking that the bus station is progressed, but it is owned privately and it is out of our hands. We meet regularly with Dysart and we will update you and other Hexham members if there is any progress.

“At this point in time, the price they would like for that site is higher than the valuation we have received. We need them to come down with the price so we can comply with local government finance regulations.

“As soon as that happens we will drive forward that site for Hexham residents.”

On a section 215 notice, Cllr Ploszaj said he would speak with leading officers in the planning team to see if such a move would be feasible.

In December, Dysart said it had received “positive” interest from potential purchasers for the bus station site, and that discussions were “ongoing”.