@US - even in these god forsaken times it is still the legal duty of a public body to administer public funds sensibly and productively. Disposing of a valuable asset without any gain would be improper use of public funds.
In this instance, a proper use would be to insist that the properties developed will be affordable to the local population, i.e. at social rent.
If your local council gave, without strings, a couple of £million to a local business, wouldn't you want to know where your money was being spent and why? Indeed you have a legal right to, just as the Council has a moral right to act in a way that maximises the worth of its assets - indeed if they do not the CLG could invoke the legal requirement that the do so.