The council is moving forward with plans to sell one of the borough's most historic buildings after a couple of setbacks.

The local authority has marketed New Summerseat House on Summerseat Lane in recent years and requires cabinet approval to sell the property.

Built in 1836 by cotton mill owner Richard Hamer, the large, detached house was given listed status in 1985 and has extensive grounds.

The site the building is on is part of the council's "accelerated land disposal programme" and has been vacant since 2016 when its former use was as a pupil learning centre.

Since its closure, the building has significantly deteriorated and the property has suffered from ongoing issues of anti-social behaviour.

The council is currently spending more than £150,000 a year on security and maintenance costs.

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The property was originally marketed in the summer of 2021, however, the preferred bidder was unable to provide satisfactory proof of funds to enable the sale to continue.

A decision was then made to remarket the site, this time with a development brief that would give bidders an indication of what uses the council would deem acceptable from a planning perspective.

A second tender exercise was carried out in summer 2022, the results of which were approved by the cabinet in November.

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But then, in May, the winning bidder informed the council that he could no longer proceed at the price he had previously offered.

As a result, a further bidding stage has been required where all original bidders had the opportunity to submit revised bids.

The council considered a number of options, and it has been proposed to accept the tender from the highest ranked bidder.

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This option would see the listed building renovated and brought back into use as a residential property within the next 12 months.

It is proposed that a 999-year lease is granted to the purchaser with a restriction on the use being for residential purposes only.

In a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, September 6, council leader, Cllr Eamonn O'Brien, added: "The sale of the council asset is contributing positively to the council to release and dispose of assets with a financial return back to the council allowing us to reinvest that into other vital services and priorities.

"This is a positive thing for us to endorse and support."

The recommendation to sell Summerseat House was accepted by the cabinet.  

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