THE iconic 60 King Street could be sold at a recommended guide price of £1.1 million.

Knutsford Town Council is proposing putting it on the market, after it has lain empty for three years.

The Grade II listed property was home of the former La Belle Epoque restaurant for 46 years before the council took control in 2019.

The assets and operations committee voted 3:2 on Monday evening that the best option now was to sell the building.

READ > Driver survives after car overturns and lands upside down in stream

Cllr Neil Forbes said: “We’ve tried our best. We’ve tried commercial tenancy, grants, heritage funding and all sorts.

“Now it is costing us more and more money.

“I do believe the town wants us to do something with building, make it into something lovely.”

Cllr Christopher Gray said: “It is the most iconic building in this town. It needs saving.

“The only way to save it is to put it into the hands of people who have sufficient funds, sufficient capacity and knowledge to do something about it.”

Town clerk Adam Keppel-Green told the committee he has spoken with Savills and three companies who had expressed an interest in the property.

Two say they would like to acquire the freehold but had no interest in the lease.

The third is preparing a proposal.

Savills recommend marketing the property at a guide price of £1.1 million.

Paul Webster, speaking to the committee as a member of the public, proposed a charity or community interest company operating a community led initiative.

One option is to offer the lease to a charity on a peppercorn rent, the committee heard.

Mr Webster said: “This is Knutsford’s most iconic building.

“She knows that with care and creativity, she has a potential to succeed, and, magnificently at that.”

Cllr James McCulloch said: “I think we are just delaying the inevitable.

“The length of time it will take to get funding through, get professionals on board, the town will see a building crumbling before it with the repairs that are required.”

Cllr Andrew Malloy, who opposes the sale, said: “I think we were all a bit concerned that potentially another £30,000 bill will be coming our way.

“I think that one of our biggest mistakes with this building is leaving it empty for the last three years.

"I think if we can get things happening, some of the reparation works that need to be done, I don't think it's dead yet.

"If that's through a community group or charity, fantastic, who potentially can secure better funds than we can as a council.

"I think there is possibly a chance. Maybe there's one more shot." 

Cllr Elizabeth Beswick, who is against the sale, said: “We had two days where residents came around and had a look at it.

“They were enthusiastic about keeping it as a community venue and had lots of different ideas for what they wanted to use it for.

“I think it would be disrespectful of their views just to throw in the towel and not try and achieve some other way of getting funding.”

Cllr Forbes, McCulloch and Gray voted in favour of selling the building.

Cllrs Malloy and Beswick objected to the resolution.

The recommendation will be discussed at a full council meeting on January 9, 2023.