THE council plans to sell Chester Retail Park having received an offer on the site, The Standard has learnt.

Cash from the sale would be reinvested in other projects, including the redevelopment of the former waste depot at nearby Bumpers Lane.

Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) currently owns the freehold on the retail park, based at Deva Link Road, and collects rent and rates from businesses that occupy the units.

At the moment they are: Hobbycraft; Sports Direct; B&M Home Store; Maplin; Mothercare; 99p Stores; Outfit; T K Maxx; Toys R Us; McDonald’s; and Pizza Hut.

Toys R Us and Maplin are closing their units having recently gone into administration and Mothercare has issued a profits warning.

However, Cllr David Armstrong, cabinet member for legal and finance at CWaC, told this newspaper that the decision to sell had nothing to do with this.

“We had an external surveyor look at it and we got a better price than we were expecting so that was very positive,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s nothing to do with that [the closure of Toys R Us and Maplin]. Someone wanted the freehold and we had an offer.”

The council’s assets can be sold and the money reinvested if assessments show this would lead to a better return on investment, he said.

Details on the buyer and how much the retail park will be sold for remain confidential.

The money from the sale would be invested in the redevelopment of the Bumpers Lane site where a number of new business units are under construction.

“It’s going really well and all five of the units have now gone,” Cllr Armstrong said. “There will be 10 more.”

A decision to sell the site was taken by the Labour-led administration at CWaC last month but it has been ‘called in’ by the opposition Conservative group.

The issue will now be discussed at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) on Monday (April 16).

The Conservative group say the planned sale had not been included on the council’s ‘forward plan’ and that they had not been briefed about it “in a timely fashion”.

There is also a “lack of detail” in the business case for the decision, they say.

Cllr Armstrong said he was unsure why the decision to sell the site had been called in as the council’s Property Reinvestment Programme (PRP) had not been the subject of any group briefings so far.

He said the council had its finances under control and “balances the books year on year”.

“We are in a very strong position,” he added. “We are one of the most financially sound councils in the country.”

CWaC owns more than 650 commercial property interests including retail, industrial, office and land across the borough. It has a net rental stream of around £5.8 million a year against a capital value of roughly £100 million.