Council spends £6.25m on campus purchase

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Monday, April 15th, 2019 6:51pm

By Carmelo Garcia - Local Democracy Reporter

The total cost to local taxpayers to help rescue the struggling college for the blind in Hereford amounts to more than £6m.

Herefordshire Council’s contracts and assets cabinet member Harry Bramer made the decision in February to spend £5,395,000 on purchasing the Royal National College of the Blind’s southern campus.

The total capital cost amounts to £6.25m which included stamp duty, land tax and other purchase costs of £635,000.

Extra costs to cover legal valuation, project management consultant fees and contingency costs are anticipated to total £220,000.

Council officers say the project finance will be drawn from the development partnership capital programme bringing forward budget allocated for 2019/20. This is funded from capital receipts reserve.

They also say that the RNCB will continue to occupy some of the buildings in the very short term with the view to moving their entire provision to the northern campus by 2020.

Hereford College of Arts occupies the main building on the site while having access to other areas and will remain in the building for the long term providing an income stream to the council.

The council will be considering growth opportunities with its development partner in the near future and will continue discussions with its key education partners.

Chris Jenner, technical services acting assistant director, said in a report: “In the short term the property provides an income stream for the council under an existing lease to the Herefordshire Arts College which is due to expire in 2023.

“This income could be deposited in a sinking fund to cover liabilities.

“There is potential to increase the income stream through further letting of accommodation to the RNCB, effectively a sale and leaseback arrangement in the short term.”

The site comprises a number of buildings including a grade II listed red brick Victorian building which is currently used by the arts college under a lease.

Other buildings vary in age and use and includes a café. The property has parking areas at different locations across the site.

The proposal was circulated to all political groups at Shirehall but no comments or questions were received leading up to the decision.

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