Council buildings sale raises £40m

A MASSIVE sell-off of former council offices since the opening of the civic headquarters at Waverley Court has brought in nearly £40 million, it was revealed today.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 31st October 2011, 12:02 pm

The city council has sold off 14 former office buildings since it created its new corridors of power at the prominent Market Street site.

With 1600 staff relocating to the new headquarters from offices across the city, a sale of unused offices has taken place – and netted the cash-strapped authority £37.4 million.

The combined cost of rent and loan payments for Waverley Court, as well as relocation costs, has been £24.8m –which city leaders say is proof that the move to the striking newly built office in 2006 has benefited the public purse.

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The property sell-off has also resulted in some major new developments, including the Hotel Missoni on George IV Bridge. However, many remain prominent gap sites because of the impact of the economic downturn that has struck in the years since the council created its new headquarters.

Councillor Phil Wheeler, the city’s finance leader, said: “Moving to Waverley Court was an important part of our strategy to make sure we made the best possible use of our properties.

“By bringing together staff in one modern building we have both saved the council millions of pounds and freed up prime city-centre sites for new businesses.

“Many of the buildings we previously occupied would have been very expensive to maintain as office accommodation but they were ripe for commercial development, which in turn creates valuable jobs and income for the city.

“We will continue to look for opportunities to save money through better use of our properties, which may include bringing staff together on existing or new sites, and selling vacant properties where we can achieve a good return for the taxpayer.”

Prominent buildings to be sold included the former Lothian Regional Council headquarters on George IV Bridge, which was snapped up by the Mound Property Company in 2006 and is now Hotel Missoni.

Councillor Ricky Henderson, finance leader for the Labour group on the council, which was in administration when the council made the move to Waverley Court, said: “These figures show it was a far-sighted policy that now appears to be delivering benefits.

“But all organisations still have to look at how they use property and how people work so all big organisations like the council will keep their property strategy under review.”