A REDUNDANT school is being sold to Richmondshire District Council for £275,000 less than it is worth to solve a thirty year battle to find new headquarters and offer new facilities for the community.

The authority will buy Richmond Lower School for £400,000 from North Yorkshire County Council as part of a major £1.9m redevelopment providing new headquarters for the council and developing extra services for the community including accommodation for voluntary sector groups such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Richmondshire will move from three existing smaller properties in the town which will be sold to pay for the new scheme.

The council’s plans to build new headquarters have been dogged by controversy after a scheme to move to specially built premises at Colburn were abandoned seven years ago, largely because of the £5million cost.

Members of the county council’s executive approved selling the site at below value after hearing it was costing them £8,000 a year to look after the building which had been targeted by vandals.

Councillors were told they had the power to sell the building at undervalue through the local government act because Richmondshire District Council lacked the funds to pay market value and the high cost of refurbishing the building.

Coun John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council told the executive:”Can I say a big thank you. We have struggled for years, since the 1980s to find new headquarters.

“This is a win win for everyone. We have 170 staff and three different buildings all over the town, this will be a bonus for them and we will be able to put community services onto the same site.

“This is a huge boost for the town and a fantastic project.”

Coun Carl Les added: "This is the right thing for Richmondshire, they have struggled for years in sub standard accommodation and it is the right thing for the county council, although that building was an asset, as an empty school it is a liability and is already suffering from minor vandalism.”

The county council has also agreed to provide a grant of £20,000 toward the refurbishment of the Victorian part of the buildings, which is intended for community use.

Work is expected to start next summer.