SPENDING more than £1.5 million on buying a landmark building in Knutsford town centre would not provide value for public money.

That is the view of Knutsford Town Council, which decided not to submit a bid to purchase the former home of Wright Marshall auctioneers.

Marshall House in Church Hill is a Grade 2 listed building which was built in 1893 to house the Church of England Egerton Boys and Girls School.

Since 1977 it had been home to Wright Marshall auctioneers, which went into administration this year.

The property was put onto the market with Williams Sillitoe in September, and the town council said the anticipated sale price would be more than £1.5 million.

The opportunity to buy the building was considered by the town council at two meetings in October.

At an initial meeting councillors decided it was worth exploring options for the building, recognising it could provide an additional community space and public car parking.

An options paper was prepared in advance of a November 1 deadline to submit a bid to purchase the building.

This paper was considered at a special meeting of the town council on October 29, where it was noted that the limited time available meant a fully-costed and detailed business case could not be prepared.

The options paper explored the idea of buying Marshall House to convert it into a town hall venue, accommodating the Market Hall and/or council offices.

One key benefit identified was the opening-up a large hall for the community, identified as a need in the Neighbourhood Plan.

Town clerk Adam Keppel-Green said: “It has been anticipated that the purchase price would be in excess of £1.5m, and it was concluded that purchasing the building would not provide value for public money.

“The council accordingly resolved not to submit a bid or explore the options any further.

“The council is always looking for opportunities to improve the facilities and services available to our community, but on balance we felt this would have presented too much risk and been a poor use of public money.

“We look forward to seeing proposals to bring this fantastic building back into active use developed by the new owners in due course.”