Council set for £85m asset sales; sites remain mystery

By Jason Lewis, Local Democracy Reporter

civic centre front spring 2023 600pxThe sale of assets owned by financially stricken Southampton City Council (SCC) is set to move forward – but the sites that could be put on the market remain a mystery to the public.


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SCC is looking to dispose of properties to bring in £85million in the next financial year.

Asset sales are expected to see more council services and staff move into the Civic Centre, which is currently “underutilised”.

The Asset Development and Disposal Programme (ADDP) comes as the local authority’s approved budget for 2024/25 included £39.3million of exceptional financial support from central government.

This support, in the form of a capitalisation direction, is set to be covered by the sale of council-owned sites.

A report [pdf] published ahead of a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, March 19, details that consultants have carried out a review of a large part of the authority’s corporate and operational portfolio.

Councillors are being asked to sign off on the recommended disposal or development of certain assets.

Details on the proposed sales are within a confidential part of the report, which has not been made available to the public. The report says releasing this material would “reveal information which would put the council at a commercial disadvantage”.

The number of assets currently earmarked for disposal has not been disclosed.

Outlining the impact of the ADDP, the report says: “The council will be undergoing future transformation and with a slimmer organisation there will be a need for fewer council-owned properties.

“Disposal of assets will inevitably mean some council services will be relocated and migration of staff from these buildings to the Civic Centre is the preference at this time.

“This property is currently underutilised and can accommodate approximately 450 additional staff working from this location. However, some internal reorganisation of working areas may be necessary to accommodate additional numbers.”

The corporate and operational portfolio includes more than 330 assets, including office space, depots, leisure centres, car parks and adult social care facilities. The overall value in the most recent accounts was £256 million, not including school sites.

Consultants Aecom assessed 200 of these assets, with schools, housing, sports pitches, recreation grounds, parks and community centres excluded.

It is also being recommended to progress work on disposing or regenerating some of the council’s investment properties.

The local authority is said to have a “varied” investment portfolio, which includes shops and retail units, industrial units, pubs, hotels and student accommodation. This portfolio, valued at £106 million overall, has around 200 assets.

After the cabinet meeting, the following day full council will be asked to sign off on the overall ADDP and proposed asset sales.

ldrs logo 200px This article is from the Local Democracy Reporting Service or Shared Data Unit. Some alterations and additions may have been made by our site, which is a partner in the BBC's Local News Partnerships scheme. LDRS journalists are funded by the BBC to cover local authorities and other public service organisations, and content is shared with all partners.

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