Old Heanor Grammar School could be subject to compulsory purchase order

A Derbyshire council may buy a derelict former school after its owner put forward a lofty asking price.

Monday, 25th January 2021, 10:37 am

The former Heanor Grammar School building in Mundy Street, also a former college, has sat vacant for eight years.

New papers have revealed that Amber Valley Borough Council has offered to buy the building off its owners, Derby firm Vale Property Limited.

However, the council said: “There is a very significant gulf between owner’s current asking price and the council’s own independent valuation.

The building has been vacant since 2013. Photo: Google Earth

“If it is not possible to agree a price which reflects the actual value of the grammar school site, then the only practical option will be to seek acquisition via compulsory purchase order (CPO).”

Vale Property Limited bought the site in 2016 and it planned to invest £5 million into its redevelopment.

It told the Local Democracy Reporting Service last year that security and repairs were costing the firm £100,000 a year.

The firm has been approached for comment on the council’s potential CPO and the ‘significant gulf’ between the council’s valuation and Vale’s asking price. It was also asked what these two prices were.

The financial details of the issue will be discussed in a private section of a full council meeting on Wednesday, January 27.

Coun Paul Jones, leader of Heanor & Loscoe Town Council, said: “Unfortunately, I do not know any figures as the council are keeping these confidential, due to them being commercially sensitive.

"But I understand that the owner is asking for more than £1 million when they purchased it for between £500,000 and £750,000, so are looking for a tidy profit for doing nothing.

“The council will of course only be able to offer what they are advised is the market value of the site which I suspect is not the asking price.”

The grammar school and its regeneration formed a key part of the borough council’s bid for government funding from the Future High Streets Fund.

The council bid for £12 million and received an offer of £8.6 million.

CPO proceedings would need to start in early March in order to ensure the council has access to government funding for the purchase.

This is directly after a further bid to the Future High Streets Fund at the end of February which is essential to be given a final funding offer.

The urgency to start the CPO proceedings shortly after this bid stems from the need to spend this government funding by March 2024.

Vale, speaking to the LDRS last year, said there had been five attempts to burn the property down and it was under ‘virtual constant attack from vandals and thieves’ which had sparked the large annual spend on security.

In September 2018, the firm saw its plans to turn the Grade II-listed building into 24 apartments, the former science block into a further nine apartments, and to build 19 houses in the college grounds, refused by the council.

No further plans have since been put forward.

The council’s original Future High Streets Fund bid, now having to be revised and resubmitted, had aimed to build either housing for seniors, one-to-two bed flats or townhouses on the former school site.

It was also considering demolishing the ‘unattractive’ former science block and turning the main building into a business and community hub.