Council invests in property to boost coffers

Artist's impression of 3 Sovereign Square, Leeds
Artist's impression of 3 Sovereign Square, Leeds
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COUNCIL OFFICERS have put forward proposals to buy two prime commercial buildings it helped bring to development as part of a strategy to raise income in the face of shrinking budgets.

Senior councillors at Leeds City Council will be asked later this month to agree a proposal to invest in two recently developed sites that come with existing tenants.

The council’s executive board will receive a report from officers on June 22 recommending buying 3 Sovereign Square in the city centre and Building One, Logic Leeds in the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone.

They will hear that substantial rental income from tenants already on board - law firm Addleshaw Goddard as the main occupier at Sovereign Square and a lease with retail giant Amazon at Logic Leeds - would exceed the borrowing costs.

The council said the move was part of its ongoing policy to act as a catalyst in the city’s economic recovery by intervening proactively to stimulate growth.

It has kick-started a number of development and regeneration projects. It built the first direct Arena, used local authority powers to assemble land for the Victoria Gate and Trinity retail and leisure schemes, freed former council car park land for the Sovereign Street development and adjacent public green space, and prepared land in the enterprise zone for manufacturing and logistics.

The two proposed purchases are also strategically located to help the council further plans to develop the South Bank - thought to be the largest regeneration opportunity in Europe - and grow the enterprise zone.

Coun Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “We’re absolutely determined to drive Leeds towards having a strong economy while being a compassionate city that embraces opportunity for all. Our proactive approach to economic development underpinned by wise asset investment and management enables the council to be a real catalyst in stimulating the local economy.

“It has enabled us to play a pivotal role in Leeds’ economic resurgence, working closely in partnership with a resilient and innovative private sector.”

Other recent economic interventions driven by the council include investing in a new railway station at Kirkstall Forge, which has helped bring forward a major brownfield development project with 1,000 new homes. Council grants have also been made to businesses that have levered in private investment and created new jobs and to land owners for site reclamation in the enterprise zone.

If councillors agree the proposed purchases it is at a time when there is the opportunity to fix long-term borrowing at low interest rates. The council’s property portfolio includes the arena, the redeveloped Merrion House, and the Harper Street (markets) multi-storey car park.