Council Completes Sale of Putney Garden Centre Site

Wandsworth Council has announced the sale by auction of its land at Dryburgh Road, Putney for the sum of £1.6m.

The sale means that the Garden Centre will now definitely close when the current lease runs out in March 2002. The purchaser is Fairdare Ltd and it is understood that the site will be developed for residential purposes. The site has planning permission for 5 houses or ten flats.

The council's policy and resources chairman Maurice Heaster said the sum would be available to supplement the council's already substantial capital programme in Putney.

He stated: "It is only through a vigorously business-like approach to asset management that councils can generate funds of their own to help meet the rising capital costs of schools, leisure centres and other facilities used by the community. Our schools programme includes major structural works and a new roof at Chartfield School in Putney. This school for children with special needs was otherwise facing the prospect of having to move out of the area.

"We are spending £8.5m on a massive expansion and upgrading of facilities at all the borough's leisure centres including the major works already under way at Putney leisure centre. This is all investment that the council has to finance from its own resources.

The Council have offered assistance to the owners of the garden centre in finding a new site. They say that although they kept the door open for the previous occupants to make further offers right up until the last moment, the gap between the garden centre's bid and the final sale price was too wide.

Many local residents have criticised the Council's policy or selling local assets to raise funds for capital spending. Last year a petition with over 7000 signatures was raised. Rising property prices have lead to such sales being an important source of revenue.

Four other council lots in the sale exceeded the reserve price in each case - netting further receipts for the council totalling £0.86m.

The Council Chief Executive has issued an open letter on the matter.

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