A DORCHESTER developer has branded council chiefs’ handling of a decision on where to site their new HQ as an ‘utterly shameful state of affairs’.

Brewery Square developer Andrew Wadsworth has fired a broadside at West Dorset District Council for wasting time and money by selecting rival developer Simons to build its new Dorchester home on council-owned land in Charles Street.

Simons was chosen by councillors ahead of Mr Wadsworth’s £1.85million-cheaper Brewery Square bid, which would have saved the authority £5million overall, he claimed.

Mr Wadsworth said: “I think it’s an utterly shameful state of affairs.

“You read about this stuff. You couldn’t make it up that a Tory council trying to promote itself as being careful with public money is doing what it’s doing. I think a lot of it is about saving face.

“It’s all a rather bizarre deal anyway. They are getting a basement car park for 450 spaces in return for 150,000sq ft of new shops.

“It doesn’t seem to be a brilliant piece of financial wizardry on behalf of our council.”

Mr Wadsworth said he was ‘completely surprised’ to be snubbed for the job.

“If there was ever a ready-to-rock-and-roll building, it was our one – it exactly met their brief. The reality is that this building passed their test for satisfying their needs.

“Simons decided to make theirs bigger. I don’t know why the council decided to spend more money when our building met their needs.”

Council officers could have moved into their new home in two years’ time if Brewery Square had been selected, Mr Wadsworth said.

“On Charles Street they are allowing a four-year programme to move into the building,” he added.

Meanwhile, the district council chief executive has hit back at claims that the authority could have saved £5million by selecting a different Dorchester site for its new home.

Council chief David Clarke said he wanted to ‘allay fears and misconceptions’ after business leaders called for a meeting to ask about finer financial detail in the wake of the decision to select Simons Developments Ltd to build the new HQ in Charles Street.

Mr Clarke revealed information about costings that led to developers Brewery Square Ltd being snubbed for the job – despite offering a £1.85million cheaper bid.

In a letter to Dorchester Chamber of Commerce president Alistair Chisholm, Mr Clarke said the decision to build the WDDC offices on council-owned land will work out cheaper for tax-payers in the long run.

With a 484-space car park on the drawing board, residents will reap the benefit of parking income for council coffers, he said.

“In capital value terms this represents a significant sum secured for future taxpayers,” Mr Clarke wrote.

He added that having the authority’s offices on its own land would save £400,000 on stamp duty and that three times the income from a land sale can be earned in way of interest from the agreement with Simons.

Mr Clarke added that Simons Developments gives potential for the work to be completed on a shorter time-scale because the developers will submit a planning application by the end of this year and won’t have to secure pre-letting and funding on offices for the first phase to be completed.

A completion date of early spring 2012 is on the cards for the Charles Street development, which also promises affordable housing, a hotel and public toilets.

Mr Clarke also sought to put traders’ minds at rest that there is room for two major developments in the town centre while the recession is still biting. He added: “It is important that all of these projects come to fruition to help Dorchester and the region prosper,” he added.