Next week’s Policy & Resources Committee will consider investigating the sale of Brighton & Hove Council’s headquarters - Kings House in Grand Avenue - in an effort to raise funds and reduce overheads. Part of Hove Town Hall could also be thrown into the mix.
The Grade II listed Kings House, currently valued at about £13m was purchased for £2.5m when Brighton and Hove merged to form a unitary authority in 1997. It was formerly the HQ for Seeboard and before that a hotel. But the 140 year old building is expensive to maintain and not entirely fit for purpose lacking many of the features of a modern office block.
The Council estimates that it could save nearly £1m per annum in running costs if it moved to alternative premises.
If Kings House and two thirds of Hove Town Hall [now called The Hove Centre] were sold it could raise up to £18m. The sale would require the purchase of other property and an upgrade of the remainder of Hove Town Hall to accommodate council staff but that could still leave a profit of nearly £9m and a significant reduction in maintenance and running costs.
Brighton & Hove has one of the largest property portfolios of any local authority in the UK but it rarely sells off property assets. This is because income from property generates a significant revenue stream for the council; more than it receives in redistributed UBR grant from central government. But Kings House generates nothing in income and the Hove Centre very little.
The seafront location of Kings House would be attractive to developers seeking sites for residential accommodation and the myriad of closed plan rooms off central corridors lends itself more to apartments than it does to modern, open-plan office requirements.
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