Great Dunmow Town Council turns down deal to sell historic building

Great Dunmow Town Council offices.

Great Dunmow Town Council offices. - Credit: Archant

Plans to sell off a historic building in Great Dunmow to help fund a £1.8million deal which would “establish a new base in the town” have been refused.

Businessman Ian Terry asked the town council to consider exchanging Foakes House, on Stortford Road, to contribute towards the cost of buying the former Perkins site, opposite the building.

Even though planning permission has already been granted to develop the site into flats, owner Mr Terry was willing to sell it to the town council instead for £1.8million.

The thinking behind the scheme was that the town council would be able to establish a bigger town hall complex with a chamber and offices, to cope with the increasing population that is expected with all the new development.

Uttlesford district Councillor Vic Ranger, who was at the meeting on Thursday night on behalf of Mr Terry, told the council: “In 20 years time there will be a need for bigger facilities for the civic duties. We need to look at this in the long-term as an investment. It would have a value. This will be an asset to the town.”

To make up the £1.8million cost of the site, it was suggested that Uttlesford District Council (UDC) could offer a substantial sum from the Community Initiative Fund and the town council could take out a loan from Public Works Loan Board to cover the balance.

However, councillors refused to take the proposal any further due to the high cost of the project.

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Great Dunmow town Cllr Wendy Barron said: “We do not need a large council chamber. We cannot afford it. I really do not think the people of Great Dunmow want us to build another town hall when we already have one.”

And Councillor Carol James added: “We do not need it and we cannot afford it. We have Foakes House.”

Cllr Phil Milne agreed that there would be a need for bigger facilities in the future but it was not possible to fund now.

He said: “In 30 or 40 years time this could be a great asset to the town but until 30 years time we would not be able to afford it.”