Moray Council say that they will employ the services of consultants to check financial proposals made to them for the purchase of common good land in Forres.
The local authority has an offer on the table from Redco Milne thought to be worth around £6.5million for a new retail development at Bogton Road. The deal is dependent on the purchase of common good land and is part of a long-standing attempt by the developers to create a retail park alongside the A96.
However, the proposals have been strongly opposed locally, with a survey of residents in the area having been undertaken by Moray Council that was firmly against the sale of the land. As the land also includes Mosset Park, the home of Forres Mechanics FC, the Highland League club took its own legal steps to protect their position.
Now the nature of the offer from Redco Milne – a payment of £6.5million for a 35-year lease on the common good land with ownership reverting back to the Council at the end of that period – will be looked into by consultants on behalf of the local authority before any further action is taken.
A council spokesman said: “The type of deal offered is not one encountered by the council before, so it was important to have a proper assessment to ensure that it represented the best possible outcome for the Common Good Fund should the development proceed.”
Councillors have now agreed to the commissioning of consultants with a remit of providing a full and independent evaluation of the funding package and the complex terms being offered by Redco Milne.
Redco Milne has already been given outline planning consent for their development with councillors agreeing earlier this year to continue discussions with the company. However, Moray Council has reiterated their commitment to consultations with the people of Forres before any final decision is made.