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Anger as council votes to sell Old House
7:00am Saturday 2nd February 2013 in News
OPPOSITION councillors are angry over a decision to sell a historic building in Brentwood.
Brentwood Council’s asset panel voted to recommend the Old House, in Shenfield Road, which dates back more than 500 years, is put up for sale.
A final decision will be made by the authority’s policy board on whether it is sold.
This reverses a decision made by the same group last June to look at refurbishing the grade II listed building and turn it into residential dwellings.
Councillors including Independent Phil Baker, who was vice-chairman of the group when the original decision was made, have said they are disgusted with the change.
Mr Baker said: “The plan we devised is a viable one, especially given that we own the building and will add value to it if we were to spend money on its refurbishment.
“The council’s Conservative hierarchy seem hell bent on banking the cash from a sale rather than thinking about Brentwood first.”
Ross Carter, Lib Dem councillor for Brentwood North, the ward where the building is situated, said: “I’m so disappointed this historic building, a real jewel in the crown in Brentwood’s assets, has been put up for sale to the highest bidder.
“I’ve been fighting to keep this building since 2008 when I was first elected and last year, Old House had a reprieve.
“But now, without a number of key reports available, such as English Heritage’s view, they now intend to sell off something special.”
Chris Hossack, the chairman of the asset panel, said the council is not in a position to keep ownership of every single historical building in the town.
He said: “We have to pick the right investments to make.
“We cannot save every historical building in the borough and the report requested by the previous chairman of this panel said it would cost at least £1million to fix it up for renovation.
“I know people are moaning about it now, but it’s been derelict for years and I have to say to them, why have you not come up with an idea for it before, or seen what residents want to do with it?
“If someone were to threaten knocking it down then I would stand up and prevent it, but it’s a listed building so there are restrictions on what builders could do to it anyway.”