Published Wednesday, 04 July 2012
The former barracks site. (© UTV)
The Public Accounts Committee said Malone Barracks, which went for £3.8m, may have raised more with better advice from the Land and Property Service.
It was sold in December 2003 after being transferred to Stormont from the Ministry of Defence, along with a number of other former military sites in Northern Ireland.
But the base had been valued at up to £5m - and was sold on by the buyer the same day.
"We have serious concerns with the use of an informal unconditional bidding process in the sale of the Malone site," MLA Joe Byrne of the committee said.
"We are very clear that sales of land and buildings should be conducted through sealed bids opened in the presence of public sector officials representing the department or public body disposing of the asset.
"Perhaps the most unsettling fact was that neither the Department nor LPS were aware that the purchaser of the Malone Road site was acting on behalf of another developer.
"It was only following the Audit Office and committee's investigations that the Department became aware that the site was immediately transferred to a second developer on the day it was sold."
The six military and security sites transferred to the office were: Malone Road; Magherafelt; the former army base and prison at Maze/Long Kesh; Ebrington; and Crumlin Road Gaol.
The report found that proceeds from Malone and Magherafelt, which totally £4.7m, had not been used towards their intended purpose on projects that would benefit the peace process.
Concerns were also raised that the department could not make use of the £870,000 achieved from the sale of the Magherafelt site to the North Eastern Education and Library Board.
The committee was alarmed that the department is unable to definitively state that the money has not been lost to the Northern Ireland taxpayer.
Mr Byrne concluded: "The committee is encouraged by the new strategic oversight arrangements that have been put in place by the department which should improve communications between the various departments and public bodies responsible for taking forward the regeneration of the sites.
"However, it is important that the substantial investment to transform these former military and security sites results in them becoming a long-term asset for local communities.
"Continued participation from these communities and their representatives is an essential element of this."