ESTATE agents have looked round the former Salvation Army building in Park Road, Dawlish, and are due to report back to the town council with their valuations.

And the date of an open day for the public to have a look inside the controversial building has been changed to tomorrow.

The property has been the subject of intense discussions since it was bought by the previous town council at a cost of £165,000. It has remained unoccupied since the purchase in February 2010.

The mayor of Dawlish, Cllr John Petherick, told a meeting of the town council: 'Members of the public are welcome to attend the open day and come up with suggestions for what to do with the property.

'There is planning permission for five dwellings which runs out in about two years' time.

'We want to get the townspeople to attend and have a look around.'

He added: 'This building was bought with public money and so it is only right that the people who are paying for it have a say in the decision.

'There is a hard choice to be made and councillors are keen to listen to the public.

'This building was bought with public money, and so it is only right that the people who are paying for it have a say in the decision. There is a hard choice to be made, and councillors are keen to listen to the public.'

The building will be open between 10am and 4pm and town councillors will be there to hear any ideas for a future use.

Councillors are also due to meet with representatives from social housing group Teign Housing to look at the building.

Options being considered by the council are to sell the building on the open market, rent it out, sell it to a housing association to build homes for local people or make it available for community groups to use.

The latest moves follow damning criticism by the district auditor following complaints made about the actions of the previous administration.

A public outcry followed the council's decision to sell the current home, the Grade II listed Manor House.

That move had to be aborted following a parish poll but by then, the purchase of the Park Road building had already been completed, intended to be a temporary home for the town council until a new municipal building was developed.

District auditor Wayne Rickard's investigation concluded that the bid to sell the Manor as part of a long term plan for new civic offices had 'significant shortcomings'. One of his recommendations which the current town council accepted was to 'urgently consider the future of Park Road and consider short and long term options'.

l First published in the Dawlish Gazette on September 14.