Calderdale Council has been forced into a major U-turn over the controversial sale of a building in the heart of Brighouse town centre.
Offices in Lawson Road being sold by the authority will now go on the OPEN market after a storm of protest from campaigners over the way the process had been handled.
The move is a huge boost to residents, businesses and councillors who had hit out about the sale of the landmark site amid concerns that the deal had been settled in private.
Now the council have admitted that a direct transaction had been agreed with a particular party - but due to legal complications, property chiefs were now looking for interested parties.
The change of mind by the council comes hot on the heels of a similar re-think over the controversial re-development of Hipperholme crossroads following pressure from the public.
Campaigners said the plan to re-design the crossroads was flawed - and then last month leaders of a church which owns a piece of land integral to the £3.4 million scheme refused to sell.
Commenting on the Lawson Road issue, a spokeswoman for Calderdale Council said: “When we sell our property, we need to make sure we do so in a way that achieves the best price. There is no Council policy or legal requirement to use a particular selling method – for example, via auction or on the open market.
“When selling the Lawson Road offices, an independent valuer advised us that we would achieve the best price via a direct transaction with a particular party, rather than placing the property on the open market,” she added.
“A prospective purchaser was in place and we expected the sale contract to be signed last month. However, our professional property agent has confirmed that the proposed purchaser is unable to meet the timetable and terms we require for the sale of this property. This is because legal issues have arisen relating to the agreed terms, which are outside the direct control of both the purchaser and the Council.
“Therefore, we are placing the property on the open market for sale immediately. All enquiries and interest in this property should be made to the Council’s appointed agent, Hague Nicholls, on 0113 243 5792.”
Residents have previously expressed their concerns over the way a sale was agreed and were questioning if they got the best deal as the economy has now improved considerably since the bid was accepted 18 months ago.
In the past council buildings have been sold either by auction or by sealed bids.