ANDOVER Town Council has said that plans to buy land in Picket Piece to create more sports and recreation facilities are "dead in the water" after developers identified another buyer.

Following public consultations, which were overwhelmingly in support of the council's proposal to seek government funding to buy the land north of Ox Drove, the council voted to approve the appointment of an independent valuer and requested Wates Developments to confirm its asking price by June 26.

However, in an email to the town clerk on Monday, June 3, Wates confirmed that while the land was still up for sale, a new buyer had been identified.

It reads: "We have been continuing to market the land.

SEE ALSO: Town council looking to buy land to create recreation facilities

"The marketing has progressed such that we have identified a buyer for the site and it is expected that the entity will complete the purchase within the next couple of weeks."

The town clerk responded by asking if there may be any opportunity to remain in discussions with the parties but no email response was received.

Following this, it was decided not to appoint the independent valuer, in order to save £3,750 which would have been spent.

In a meeting held at The Lights on Wednesday, June 19, councillors discussed the email and how it affects plans going forward.

Deputy mayor Cllr Katherine Bird said: "They gave us a ballpark figure but there was no commitment that we were going to be the only party that they would speak to, but they never also said 'we are marketing it and trying to find a buyer'.

"I agree that the risk assessment said we would stop, should they decide not to sell to us and that's why I did immediately stop because I did not want any more time or money wasted.

"I think it's 99 per cent sure this is a dead-in-the-water project.

SEE ALSO: Residents to have their say on what they want for empty stretch of Picket Piece land

The land in questionThe land in question

"The likelihood is they want to build, but if they (Wates) decided 'do you know what? We could take a quick profit' and if the community ownership fund had another bidding window - we could still go for it."

Cllr John Cockaday expressed his sadness at the matter, stating that residents had been 'deceived'.

He said: "I'll be very sorry for the people who live in the area of that bit of green because they were promised right at the time when they bought their houses that it would never be built on, and they were lied to."

Cllr Bird added: "This would have been a really good opportunity for the developer to show their community side, to show that they are willing to work with community organisations over what was promised to local residents.

"The air turned a little bit blue when I read that they carried on marketing. I'm really cross and really sad that they have chosen to go ahead and sell the land to somebody else when they knew that we were in discussion, moving forward and had a plan."

The land, part of the Locksbridge Park development, in Picket Piece, was initially reserved for a junior sports pitch, but this is no longer required.

Wates Developments and David Wilson Homes Southern, which own the land, sought planning permission for 16 dwellings, which was approved by Test Valley Borough Council in July last year, although no building work has started.

Cllr Bird told the meeting: "At this stage saying 'we're not going to proceed' is a very clear message. If circumstances significantly changed, then we could re-visit it. The motion on the table is that this is dead in the water."

The council unanimously voted to end the project.

Cllr Bird added: "This is the saddest vote we've ever taken."

Wates Developments has been contacted for a comment.