THE estimated cost of the new Ryedale District Council building has ballooned from £2.5 million to £5m following feasibility work.

A council report said that the increased costs for the new public service hub - which is planned to be built following the sale of Ryedale House in Old Malton for housing - should trigger a full financial assessment and a review of other options, including not going ahead with the move.

The order to explore the feasibility of the new-build premises, on the site of the current Community House at Wentworth Street in Malton, was approved by full council in April.

But at a meeting of the authority’s policy and resources committee on Thursday, officers made three recommendations to members - that a full financial assessment is completed for the development of the hub; that alternative options are investigated; and that no further progress on the development of Ryedale House is made until a decision is made on the options for the hub.

Putting questions to officers, Cllr Bob Gardiner confirmed that the option of staying at Ryedale House would be part of considerations, and Cllr John Raper asked that if the Ryedale House site goes for housing, whether a leasehold income from the homes built there is being factored in to the financial considerations. He was told that it is.

Cllr Luke Ives, committee chairman, said: “When we set out on this project, the costs with which we were provided by consultants were substantially less than what is now quoted.

“Also, one looks back at the initial objectives: it was to work alongside other organisations to enable more efficient working; it was to reduce the cost to the taxpayer by reducing ongoing maintenance costs; it was to achieve a greater rental yield.

“Yet it now looks that we stand to build a new office with less space than we have.

“We do not stand to gain from reduced maintenance costs. We stand to lose our rental income because we’d require our partners to invest capital. And you have to question whether our partners would be willing to invest and then, after 15 years, pay a substantial rent.

“I do not think it would be a good use of money. We need to look again at the current situation.”

Cllr Lindsay Burr added: “I don’t think this was well thought through. It was rushed. The money situation had not been thoroughly considered and it’s just been a pig’s ear from start to finish. Certainly residents in Malton never wanted it to go into Malton because of the congestion - we’d be exacerbating that. We need to put the brakes on this.”