Press Report in the Cotswold Journal. Story by Vivien Mason
A BRAND new village hall has turned into a white elephant after a parish council found itself staring at an unexpected £32,000 stamp duty bill.
The new hall, in Upper Rissington, built to replace an ageing structure, was completed in March 2015 but complications within the parish council, including the resignation of five members in May, plus a few teething problems, sees it standing empty.
Latterly, a Trust had been formed to run the replacement facility, but a sign-over has been delayed in light of the latest set-back.
The hall had been provided as part of a 106 agreement through Bovis and Linden Homes, developers of a housing development at Victory Fields. The agreement was that the parish council would pay the nominal fee of £1 upon transfer.
However, just before Christmas parishioners were shocked to discover the village is liable for £32,000 stamp duty which had not been budgeted for.
Cllr Brian Hanks, vice chairman of Upper Rissington Parish Council said in a statement on the parish council’s website: “I, my fellow councillors and many residents are dismayed that the new village hall still stands unused. As many will be aware, the old village hall is nearing the end of its useful life. The parish council had hoped that the new village hall would have been up and running some months ago; however, we have been delayed by going through the due legal processes.
“At the meeting of the parish council on November 23 the council agreed to acquire the new hall from the developers, making it available to residents shortly thereafter.
“Shortly after this, the council’s solicitors advised us, for the first time, that the parish council – which means the residents in the village – will be liable to a stamp duty charge of £32,000 – an average of about £60 per house. This was an amount that the council had not budgeted for. Unfortunately the Section 106 Agreement, between Cotswold District Council and the Developers covering the provision of the new hall did not address the stamp duty liability.”
Ward councillor Mark MacKenzie-Charrington, said the 106 agreement was signed a number of years ago and it appears councillors at that time were unaware they would be liable to stamp duty.
“I am trying to do my bit to find a way forward with this so residents do not have to pick up this. There are a number of propositions we are making and hope to have some answers in two or three weeks,” he said.
“Many people would not expect to have been landed with stamp duty on a building that has been gifted and they only found out about this at the last moment. The lesson from this is that section 106 agreements must be written in such a way that obligations as to the provision of new builds detail all the associated costs and legalities.”
Andrew Mitchell, secretary of the Upper Rissington Village Hall Trust said: “The Trust is looking forward to signing the lease with the parish council at the earliest opportunity so that it may begin fulfilling its charitable objectives of providing a vibrant new facility for the residents of Upper Rissington.”