Seven million pound building in St Albans city centre could be bought by council

St Albans council makes offer on seven million pound building. Picture: Supplied

St Albans council makes offer on seven million pound building. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

A city centre retail and office block on the market for £7.2 million could be bought by the council.

St Albans council is planning to buy Lockey House, the building that currently has Barclays Bank and Virgin Money among its tenants.

The cabinet – the council’s executive - approved moves to purchase the freehold of the property at its meeting on Tuesday, July 21.

This is subject to the completion of full legal and building checks as well as a valuation by an independent property surveyor.

A significant offer has secured its position as the preferred bidder.

Building work is underway at one section which is known as CCOS South and was formerly the site of a police station and NHS clinic. It is being transformed into adjacent blocks of flats and commercial space.

The purchase of Lockey House will enable the council to manage the whole area more effectively and to shape the economic mix of uses for shoppers, businesses and residents while also providing future redevelopment options.

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It is also intended to create new annual revenue as the rental income should be more than the repayments for the 50-year loan to buy the building.

Cllr Robert Donald, portfolio holder for commercial, development and wellbeing, said: “This is a unique opportunity to acquire one of the biggest and most prominent commercial buildings on our high street which will enable us to protect and support the city’s economic life. We believe we should not miss this opportunity.

“It is an ambitious acquisition in terms of our commitment to shape and regenerate this area.

“However, I am convinced that this investment will provide value for money for our residents in the years ahead.

“Given the regeneration we have already started nearby, it makes sense to acquire an interest in this property estate.

“There is still much work to do in carrying out due diligence as regards the state of the building itself and legal requirements. Full council will also have to agree the increase in our capital budget to enable this investment to happen.

“However, I am confident that now we are the preferred bidder we can negotiate a good deal which reflects the present COVID-19 situation and the financial opportunity this purchase offers us and our taxpayers.”