£5,200 a week to keep West End Lane offices empty

Last week, I wrote about Camden’s plan to dispose of 156 West End Lane, commonly known as the Travis Perkins building.

Credit to Camden for getting back to me promptly with the exact cost of keeping the building open up to disposal.

“The projected weekly cost for 156 West End Lane is £5,233 and allows for the following running costs provision whilst vacant:

  • Business rates – sizeable part of the budget representing around 75% of the total cost; taking into account any reduction in liability for the building being vacant for 3 months
  • Utilities ~ low spend but supply retained to enable ease of access and compliance
  • Removals of furniture prior to disposal
  • H&S Compliance – provision for water management and fire safety until disposal
  • Security – control measures adopted to mitigate against adverse possession (squatting)

The property also includes a small contingency to allow for any unforeseen repair to the property including non-statutory planned preventative maintenance i.e. security alarm.”

Given that we’re looking at around three years before this building is sold, that’s somewhere in the region of £750,000 in total. Naturally, the building can’t be left to fall into disrepair and it’s not a huge sum of money in the grand scheme of things but, at a time when budgets are squeaky tight, couldn’t some other use be made of the space (for a charge) during that time, allowing Camden to recoup some of its cost?

One commenter on the previous article suggests that the guide price for the sale of the building is £25 million. Seems a bit low to me, but I’m not an expert. Another commenter wrote:

“I’d like to see the empty office space being used, it’s criminal to keep it empty, there are many possible temporary uses for it – accommodation, business, art etc. Eg. in Holland they house short-term tenants (on 5 day notice terms) at very affordable prices to fend off potential squatters, a win-win.”

Camden likes to see itself as an innovative council – here’s a great opportunity to demonstrate it AND save some money.

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  • Anonymous

    Reckon the 5k figure is for the whole site – so a good chunk would be recouped by the presence of wickes and travis perkins, no? Regardless, Camden still pays a bunch for nothing!

    • As I understand it, this is the cost for the empty offices vacated by Camden rather than for the whole site.

  • Anonymous

    Of course it won't be camdens problem once sold! Still, if they had gotten their act together and been able to prove redevelopment before TP's lease expiry they could have countered the 54 act right to renew and the whole development could have proceeded far sooner.

  • Let's hope the campaign for a much needed NW6 school get the go ahead and can secure the site

    • Anonymous

      I'd love for a good school to go there but surely there'll be complaints about the impact on WEL traffic

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    I think the school idea is an excellent one and can't think of any other site (which hasn't already been sold off) that would be suitable.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that the school idea is excellent. Could be turned into a school in no time

  • Er… You say that 75% of this "cost" is business rates payable by the Council to the Council itself!

    So I make the true weekly cost just 1/4 = £1,308.25, which is £204,087 over three years, not £750,000.

    "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics"
    Mark Twain

    • Not strictly true – business rates are collected by the council but fed into central government, which then redistributes based on a set formula.

      At the moment, Camden receives 41% back of the money it collects, though this is set to change under a review of the Business Rates scheme. For financial planning purposes, Camden is assuming a cut in the money it will receive under the new plan.

      If, however, for simplicity sake, we take the 41% as applying for the next three years and exaclty 75% of the total cost being busines rates, then we’re now looking at £2,917 a week, which is £455,000 over three years. So, yes, less than the £750,000 but still a substantial sum of money.

      Thanks for making me look into it more closely.