Land that North Yorkshire Council would be prepared to compulsory purchase in order to build thousands of homes could be worth £170m, according to a councillor.
Cllr Arnold Warneken (Green Party, Ouseburn) gave the figure at a meeting of Selby & Ainsty councillors when he said an unnamed developer had valued 128 hectares of land around Cattal station that is currently unavailable.
A new town, called Maltkiln, would be built off the towards York near the villages of Cattal, Whixley, Green Hammerton and Kirk Hammerton.
But large swathes of the site is currently off the table with the council’s Conservative executive agreeing this month to explore the option of using a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to gain control of it and allow developer Caddick Group to build the homes.
A decision on whether to use the CPO has not been made yet but if it does happen Caddick has said it would underwrite any costs.
Cllr Warneken told councillors that despite public statements from North Yorkshire Council saying the landowner had pulled out from the sale this was not the case.
He said he has met the family who told him the reality was an option to buy the land had expired and a new agreement could not be reached with Caddick.
Cllr Warneken said: “The suggestion is, we can CPO it and give no regard for farming and the wishes of the family that’s farmed that land for 200 years.
“The real concern from the community is it’s not deliverable. This community, were turning our back on them. The landowner wants to set the record straight, no way will they turn over and be submissive.”
‘Not our responsibility’
At a meeting earlier this month, Conservative councillor Derek Bastiman, who has the business portfolio on the executive, insisted the CPO “is not a threat to beat the landowners into agreeing to sell land”.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service this week, Cllr Warneken said the £170m figure could be an underestimate and the land may be worth even more.
He said a move to use the CPO could be “irresponsible” of the council due to well-publicised financial pressures on vital services such as adult social care.
Cllr Warneken added: “We’re delving into an area that’s not our responsibility. With the way construction costs are rising you’d be lucky to get your money back on the CPO and it may even lose money.”