Prospective Peterborough hydrotherapy pool buyer disputes council’s valuation of site

Pool was set to be sold for £105,000 before authority pulled plug on deal

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 5:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 9:49 am
St George's Community Hydrotherapy Pool at Dogsthorpe. EMN-220904-155914009
St George's Community Hydrotherapy Pool at Dogsthorpe. EMN-220904-155914009

The man who was in talks to buy the St George’s Hydrotherapy Pool in Peterborough has disputed the council’s valuation of the site.

Ranjith Mahamani held lengthy discussions with the authority to buy the pool - and even expected a deal to be secured by the end of the month.

The Peterborough Telegraph exclusively revealed last week the council pulled the plug on the sale, saying the site would now be mothballed - leaving users of the pool heartbroken.

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Physiotherapist Mr Mahamani had agreed a price of £105,000 for the building - along with committing to carrying out tens of thousands of pounds worth of works to bring the facility up to modern standards.

But the council and Mr Mahamani have disagreed over the valuation of the building, and how much work the council would need to carry out ahead of the sale.

A spokesman for the council said; “The hydrotherapy pool was previously valued at between £150k and £200k but needed significant investment to bring the facility up to required standards. The prospective purchaser intended to make investments after the sale and therefore a heavily discounted sale price of £105k was agreed.

“However, to make the facility sale-ready and make necessary structural changes to Heltwate School (which the pool is attached to), the council would have been required to spend between £70k and £100k on various works.

“The sale was proceeding up to and beyond the point that our 2022/23 budget was approved at Full Council. However, as part of our active work to achieve financial sustainability, all our asset-related plans and proposals have been subject to very recent intense scrutiny. Officers determined that an investment of up to £100k to achieve a capital receipt of £105k does not represent best value for the council.

“Separately, Heltwate School has confirmed their need for additional space as demand for places for SEND children has increased significantly. They have asked us to consider their use of the space occupied by the facility, with detailed discussions planned to take place.”

However, Mr Mahamani said in an independent valuation - which The Peterborough Telegraph has seen - rather than between £150,000 and £200,000 he had the site valued at £130,000.

He also said he had agreed figures with the council that meant the authority would have to pay £40,000 before the sale went through - rather than the minimum of £70,000 the council have quoted.

Most of the works Mr Muhamani said needed doing involved the disconnection of utilities including gas, electric and water from the school.

Mr Muhamani, who runs Consult Physio Ltd in the city, would have had to spend at least £60,000 refurbishing the site as part of the agreement that was in place with the council - although he had taken out a loan of £90,000 to be used on the site.

The deal also required the pool to be open for community use for at least 20 hours a week.

He said: “The council still have not been in touch with me to give a proper explanation as to why the sale has been stopped.

“I would still buy the pool now if there was a chance - but I would want a third party involved. I have no trust with the council any more.”

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