Leeds City Council has spent £94m buying property over the past five years, new figures reveal.
An investigation in the Yorkshire Evening Post last December showed the authority had spent £76m on six investment properties in the city since 2014.
But new data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows that a further £18m had also been spent by the council on so-called “non-investment properties” during that time, taking the total to £94m.
A total of 127 properties and pieces of land were purchased by the council between the beginning of 2014 and the end of 2018, while another 156 were sold off.
Of the six properties the council bought with the intention of generating cash – known as “investment” properties – the largest amount paid was £43m, for buildings in Sovereign Square in 2016, while a further £10m was put down on Harper Street multi-storey car park in 2014.
The most expensive “non-investment” space purchase the council made during that period was £2.5 million for land that would become the Temple Green park and ride site, which was purchased in 2016. Another £1.75m was spent purchasing Bramley Grange Farm.
The statistics also showed the council had sold a total of 156 properties during the five year period. However it is not known how much money was raised in total.
These sales included the New Roscoe pub in Bristol Street and the former site of Millgarth police station in Leeds City Centre – which now forms part of the Victoria Gate shopping centre.
The council says it has an annual list of land and property that it deems surplus to requirements – the money raised from this forms what the authority calls its capital receipts programme, and is reinvested into council services. It raised £12.4m from this during the last financial year and has raised around £7m so far this year.
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “Since 2010 Leeds City Council has played a leading role in the growth in the city.
“On the back of our work we have sought to capture the value that we have helped to create through prudent property investments in growth areas such as; the first direct arena, Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone, Sovereign Square and the Harper Street car park next to Victoria Gate.
“With our government grant being cut each year, the benefit of this approach can seen in the projected financial surplus in excess of £3m for the next financial year which will be used to support the funding of key services for the people of Leeds.”