PROGRESS on developing the new Aldi store in Bingley is being delayed while the Department for Transport tries to strike a money-making deal, says local MP Philip Davies.
The Highways Agency owns a strip of land above a retaining wall on the Waterloo Road site which is needed for work to start on the locally-popular plan and Mr Davies has previously urged the DfT to speed up transfer of the land strip.
However in a letter to Mr Davies, Minister of State for Transport John Hayes explains that circumstances have changed dramatically since the transfer was first mooted.
In the letter, Mr Hayes said: "The Agency has been corresponding with the local authority since January this year.
"After initial investigations, the land was declared surplus and passed to the Agency's property disposal team.
"The value of the land was nominal and the Council agreed to pay the Agency's legal fees."
Mr Hayes then explains the sudden reason for a delay - as the Agency had previously not known of Aldi's plans for the land.
He said: "The Agency understood that the land transfer was required to regularise the Council's land boundaries.
"Recent correspondence has highlighted that it is needed as part of the important Aldi development on Waterloo Road."
In light of that information, Mr Hayes writes that because any sale between state-run bodies must be done at 'market value' the Highways Agency will be contacting Bradford Council soon to review the previously agreed sales terms.
"The Agency is committed to completing the sale as soon as possible, however it is required under 'Managing Public Money' to ensure that any transfers between public bodies are at market value," writes Mr Hayes.
He said the Agency would be happy to give consent for the land to be included in Aldi's planning application and would consider entering into a conditional contract or negotiating directly with Aldi.
But Mr Davies said he was annoyed that the Highways Agency was causing such a delay and urged it to bring the deal to conclusion as soon as possible.
Mr Davies said: "They agreed to the transfer of the land to the Council and now they've got pound signs in their eyes.
"They made an agreement and they should stick to it and the land should have been transferred ages ago," Mr Davies said