No guarantee of value rise

This month’s Cramlington Town Council meeting was the first after the summer break, and also after the matter of the council’s purchase of the Surveyor’s House became public, therefore public question time was expected to be centred around that.

Whilst it was stated that the choice of property ‘met the brief given’ in that it was a centrally located site to allow easier access with public transport routes – how does that work out when the public cannot attend meetings there?

Meetings will be held at other venues around Cramlington, but doesn’t that make the need for a central site a little pointless?

Also would the use of additional meeting locations not be adding to costs with room hire charges that would not be paid if held in a more suitable building?

There is no parking available on site, except for one vehicle.

It doesn’t end there, though. The building needs remedial and improvement work to add to the (approximate) £320,000 purchase price, that again has to be met by the townsfolk.

They also need planning permission for a change of use from residential to business use, when many other similar requests in that area have been previously refused – so why would theirs be any different?

If this was to be passed when others have been refused, then serious questions should be asked.

With no possibility of disabled parking outside these premises, or access to the upper floors for those unable to use stairs, without considerable additional expense for conversion, you can’t help but wonder who really needs this building,

So if this is to provide office accommodation only, then, as mentioned by the writer of the letter ‘Other homes are available’, (News Post Leader, September 11) then why not a cheaper property? Is it necessary for four bedrooms, or a 21ft breakfasting kitchen, or even the ‘magnificent and beautifully tended gardens’? Definitely not.

The council did not agree to pursue with the purchase of this, it was a ruling vote by the Labour group and strongly objected to by the Conservative councillors.

The matter only became known to the public when planning permission was posted publicly as per process, and this was the first time it was in the public domain.

There is also no guarantee that any site purchased will increase in value over the years whether as a domestic or commercial property.

Not including the loan and interest payments, this property will always require constant maintenance and running costs, but one of this age and condition is more likely to incur greater costs than a more recently constructed and smaller property.

But when considering the purchase of any property with the use of public funds, I think it only appropriate that a fully detailed and extensive structural survey is completed and made available to view by the public, councillors, and planning committee.

Mark Swinburn

Cramlington