Words: Richard Beecham
Leeds City Council has spent more than £150,000 in just three years on security costs for EMPTY buildings, new documents reveal.
According to data obtained via a Freedom of Information request, the total number of disused and empty buildings owned by Leeds City Council currently stood at 47 in February 2021, down from 57 in 2018/19 municipal year.
However, the costs for securing its empty buildings have more than doubled, to £73,600, up from £28,600 in 2019/20 and £48,800 in 2018/19.
This has left the council with a bill of £151,000 in just three years on security costs for its own empty properties.
The council claims it has only maintained a “void/demolition dashboard” since 2018 and, as such, earlier figures are not available.
The authority also stated in its response that there was no data on which of the aforementioned buildings had since been redeveloped or demolished.
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said:
“The council works hard to explore every option and use every tool available to us to ensure that empty council-owned buildings can be brought back into use as soon as possible.
“This takes time and it is important we ensure the buildings remain secure during this period. There are currently 28 empty council-owned properties that are deemed surplus to requirements and we are actively seeking alternative uses and solutions for each of them.”
It listed examples such as Hough Top in Pudsey – a former school turned into a council office building that closed by the local authority early last year and is now being demolished to make way for new homes.
The South Leeds Golf Club clubhouse was also mentioned, as it became the responsibility of the council after the business went into administration. The council added the lease of the building to Middleton Bike Hub is “being progressed”.
The findings follow plans revealed earlier this year for the council to make more than £100m in just five years from building sales.
A document written by council officers in February added that the authority had made £11.5m selling sites – including Armley Grange, Richmond Hill Leisure Centre and Bramham House – in the past year alone.