Homes England have withdrawn a bid to complete the sale of a leisure centre and college campus in the Forest of Dean.
In October 2017, Forest of Dean District councillors unanimously agreed to demolish the Five Acres site, owned by Homes England, to make way for a new multi-million pounds leisure centre, a hotel and a restaurant.
The authority had waited since the meeting for Homes England to exchange title documents, draft contracts and seek ministerial approval.
But Homes England have now written to the authority stating it is now reviewing all the issues relating to the submission.
Council leader Tim Gwilliam said there was “no discussion and no timeline as to when it might get resubmitted”.
A Homes England spokeswoman said: “With any land disposal decision it is only right that we are careful with public money and undertake thorough due diligence, especially where significant investment is involved.
“We are therefore further reviewing all the issues relating to this case prior to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government making its decision.”
‘NO MORE MESSING ABOUT’
In a press release, Mr Gwilliam (Independent, Berry Hill) said Homes England is “damaging the council”.
He added there has been “continuous delays and false promises”.
Mr Gwilliam said: “Yesterday , we received notification from Homes England that they do not now think their submission to the Secretary of State is robust enough and have officially withdrawn it. No discussion, no timeline as to when it might get resubmitted. A submission they put in last year. They now decide it isn’t right?
“This Council in the last two years, have done everything asked of it by Homes England. We have put up with the passing deadlines, set up all the public groups, paid to have all the studies done in readiness to develop that site in line with community aspirations and to the financial detriment of the Council.
“The continuous delays and false promises have led to speculation within Cabinet that there may have been a political conspiracy. Delay delay delay, then see who forms the new cabinet and if it remains a coalition, pull the rug out completely. I don’t know if that’s true or if it is a case of utter incompetence from a government organisation.
“What I do know, is that Homes England have agreed to sell a site, that there was no public consultation on them buying, to this council to achieve something the community have been fighting for, for seven years. They insisted on the closure of the leisure centre to enable the transfer of the site with vacant possession and yet we still wait.
“Politics or incompetence, I care little now. Homes England is, in my opinion, damaging this Council and the district and we will now begin a robust and positive campaign to ensure ownership of that site is in the hands of this Council without further delay.
“I suspect the community will rise again and I fully support their right to do so. They too have been misled, they too have been let down and they too have been left without facilities that they should have a right to use.