Residents back plan to buy Royston market land
18:33 20 March 2014
The majority of residents who attended a meeting backed a council’s plan to purchase Royston market place.
Royston Town Council is seeking to purchase Market Hill, which has been put up for sale by its owner, NPK Holdings.
The £300,000 purchase will be funded by taking out a 25-year loan, costing £19,000 a year to repay. The repayments will be covered by a increase in council tax, which means the average band D household will play an extra five pence per week.
At the annual town meeting, held last week, leader of the council, Cllr F John Smith, revealed that other funding options were not available.
He said: “We applied for the money from the SIB group [an organisation which invests in social interest projects] but this was not possible because the funds were oversubscribed.
“The other option was to sell a council owned asset, which we are doing with the property in Kneesworth Street. However this is unlikely to be sold in time to buy the market. Therefore we are proposing to raise council tax by five pence a week for a Band D property.
“We called this meeting to ask residents how they feel about the proposed purchase of the land. Hopefully we can go forward with the support of local people in what we are trying to do.”
An informal vote was held at the meeting, with about 30 attendees supporting the purchase, and two expressing their opposition.
Concerns were raised that the purchase is an “unnecessary cost to the tax payer”, but Cllr John Davison said: “On the matter of repayments the cost of the lease can increase and in 10 years time it will be much closer to £19,000 a year and beyond that it will be probably be more.
“In the unlikely event that the market lease is not renewed after that period then the land could be redeveloped for other things, such as housing. I believe it is in Royston’s interests for the market to remain which is why I believe we should buy this land now.”