£90m Northamptonshire school sale plan criticised

A county council which hoped to make £90m from the sale of redundant school sites in 2007, has so far raised less than £5m it has been revealed.

When Northamptonshire middle schools were scrapped in 2007, 16 of the sites were put up for sale, but five years on only three of the sites have been sold.

The Conservative-controlled council said it did not want to "flood the market" with sites.

But the Lib Dem group has criticised the strategy.

In 2007 Northampton changed from a three-tier to a two-tier school system - leaving some school sites redundant.

At first, the council tried to sell 15 of these sites to developer Barratt Homes but the deal fell through.

'Horrendous cost'

Chris Stanbra, the Liberal Democrats spokesman on finance, said the council should have sold the sites individually in 2007.

He said: "When the decision was first made to sell these sites to one company we said this was the wrong thing to do.

"The cost to the county council for the deal not going through has been horrendous."

A spokesman for the council has defended its marketing strategy.

The statement read: "The council's cabinet agreed in September 2009 to put four of the former school sites in Northampton for sale while retaining the other sites until the property market recovers. Of those four, three have now been sold.

"It would not have been prudent to flood the market by making them all available at the same time.

"We will continue to develop commercial strategies and pursue market opportunities to achieve best value for its assets."

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