Fenland Council popped a pre-election surprise tonight by revealing it is using a chunk of its £8m ‘Future High Street Fund’ for March to buy the former Barclays Bank in Broad Street.
The entire property was let to Barclays for £59,700 a year and new tenants were being sought when the bank pulled the plug two years.
Their lease – for a term of 20 years from 18th November 2015 – can now be torn up after the council opted to buy the freehold.
The council will now have a building with 2,790 square feet to play with and with a rateable value of £53,000.
Local councillor Steve Count believes the bank would be “an absolutely prime location for a restaurant/bar/cafe.
He posted to March Free Discussion Facebook group: “I know what I would like to see done with it, flatten it and build new.
“Restaurant/bar at the bottom, possibly with flats above. Views over the newly revealed river through massive windows and pavement seating out the front could make this a real gem.”
Purchase of the building is not attracting universal approval in the town since Cllr Count, up for re -election on May 4, posted what he felt was “great news” for the town.
One post asked: “So exactly, where did you lot find the spare money from the government town centre project to buy this building?
“It could not have been in the original cost because Barclays only showed recently, and this product has been talked about for years.”
Other thoughts ranged from turning it back into bank, using part of it for public toilets, a soft play centre, and “build a multi storey car park there so you can go to the top floor and watch all the shops and business closing down”.
“A Wendy’s would be nicer,” added another post.
Whilst another felt that it was “a shame you didnt secure funds to purchase the old George Pub which is an even bigger eyesore than the Barclay’s building and has been empty and in a shocking state for years”.
Touching on the decision to move the Fountain – a decision that flew in the face of hundreds opposed to it – Fenland Council is again under fire for not discussing buying the bank with the public.
“Again, no public consultation,” said one post. “We do not need more flats or eating places.
“I’m not quite sure myself where the money is coming from as I thought it had all been accounted for.”
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