Price squabble causes £200k land bid to fail

Great Cornard Parish Council’s attempt to buy 23 acres of land with public money has failed because of the owner’s unwillingness to negotiate, according to the council.

It had planned to use the land, valued at around £200,000, to almost double the size of the adjoining Great Cornard Country Park, and had employed a consultant to negotiate on its behalf.

A statement from the council explained that the farmer had wanted to sell the land but lease it back in order to continue using it for five years.

“The purchase price quoted put the land at the top end of the market for agricultural land, but the rent offered was towards the bottom of the market, particularly considering the farmer’s intention to retain the EU subsidy attached to the land,” said the council.

“While keen to acquire the land and willing to pay a reasonable price, the council did not believe that the purchase should be dependent on a leaseback arrangement and was not willing to pay the high purchase price and receive a low rent.

“This would not have been a responsible use of public money.”

District and parish councillor Mark Newman said he was disappointed the bid had failed.

“We did want it but not at any cost,” he said. “I am very sorry we didn’t buy this field as it would have been great to double the size of the country park. With the village expanding, we need more recreation ground.”

He added that the council would continue to look at buying additional land, as and when it became available.

A spokesperson for Percival and Company, the landowner’s agent, declined to comment on the matter.