Market Drayton family could lose dream home after receiving 'surprise' £12k bill from Shropshire Council
A family could lose their dream home in Market Drayton because of a 'surprise' £12,000 bill from Shropshire Council that the owner says he knew nothing about.
Andrew Steele spent six years renovating the former school and community centre in Buntingsdale Road for him and his two daughters, but now said that he may have to sell up after being given just 14 days to pay the council.
He said he has sought legal advice over the request, but the council maintains that it followed its policies and made Mr Steele aware of what he owed when he bought the 160-year-old house in 2013.
Mr Steele said: "In November 2011 I came across an abandoned, derelict community centre and former school, for sale on Buntingsdale Road in Market Drayton.
"After a viewing and a little negotiation I put in an offer which was accepted by Shropshire Council. In order to get a mortgage I had to apply for planning permission for a change of use to a private dwelling which was done in the spring of 2012.
"All new planning applications for residential properties may be subject to an ‘affordable housing tax’. I was advised that the charge for the property would be just under £12,000 to which I said either that cost would have to come off the agreed selling price or the charge be waived.
"The council agreed to a reduction in the cost and confirmed this with the selling agent.
"As the purchase concluded neither the planning charges were applied nor was there any reduction in selling price and therefore it was assumed the council sorted the issue internally.
"Now seven years later I have received a bill for just under £12,000 with a demand for payment within 14 days.
"The correspondence from Shropshire Council was such a shock and it even calls into question if any discussions took place. I have written evidence that not only they did but what the council agreed to.
"It was such a shabby-looking and neglected property when Shropshire Council owned it. It has taken six years to renovate the property and it has become a lovely family home for myself and two daughters and it would be terrible if I had to sell it to pay for this unjustifiable and dishonest charge."
A statement by the council said: "Shropshire Council can confirm that the land was sold by Shropshire Council to Mr Steele in 2013.
"At the time of the sale Mr Steele was fully aware of the need to make a payment towards affordable housing when planning consent for housing was granted.
"A legal deed, under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, confirming a payment towards affordable housing would be made, in accordance with the council’s planning policies, was signed by Mr Steele.
"Our records show that Mr Steele had legal representation at that time and since then no other agreement to change that has been made."