A Community Land Trust in the Dales has run into the requirement for the Parochial Church Council, as a charity, to accept the highest price (aka ‘best value’) on offer for a redundant church school, rather than a slightly lower offer from The Upper Dales Community Land Trust.
The asking price of £185,000 has been offered by seven different prospective purchasers, all of who appear to want to turn it into a private home. The Community Land Trust offered £150,000 with a plan to then convert the single-storey building into three two-bedroom homes and one one-bedroom home, all affordable. The proposal was backed by the parish council, Richmondshire district council and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
The resulting row has drawn in the chancellor of the exchequer and the archbishop of Canterbury.
Rishi Sunak has urged church leaders to reconsider the sale of Arkengarthdale Church of England primary school, and members of the community have demanded the intervention of Justin Welby. But the diocese of Leeds and the parish vicar say their hands are legally tied, even though a C of E commission is investigating ways the church can help tackle the housing crisis – including by building affordable housing on its surplus land.
Sunak, the MP for Richmond, said he was disappointed by the sale to a higher bidder. In a letter to the PCC asking it to reconsider the trust’s offer, he said: “The trust’s mission to provide affordable homes for rent in the Yorkshire dales is an important one for the future sustainability of these rural communities which we are all proud to serve.”
A few years ago Hereford CLT had discussions with the Church Commissioners regarding their land at Three Elms for which they were seeking planning permission and were informed that the Commissioners would have to see ‘best value’ Essentially that means the highest price, though with some small wriggle room for what a CLT could bring to the table as against A.N. Other property developer in terms of management of open space, community involvement, and so forth.
For the full story about the school: www.theguardian.com/society/2020/aug/26/rishi-sunak-and-archbishop-drawn-into-yorkshire-dales-housing-row