Council property sales make millions

The sale of The Mount care home raised �936,000
The sale of The Mount care home raised �936,000

Selling off its buildings has brought in more than £2.5 million for Luton Borough Council’s coffers over the past two years.

Figures released to the Luton News showed the authority had received £2,539,000 from ‘asset disposals’ since 2010.

The sales include that of The Mount care home, which was closed despite protests from residents’ families, for £936,000.

Also listed are the Unicorn Pub in Wheatfield Road, which was sold for £100,000, and Brunswick Street Car Park, which went for £147,000.

Last year saw the sale of four adjacent office properties in town centre Alma Street for a total of £182,500, while the former Leagrave Family Centre in Mayne Avenue, Leagrave, fetched £301,000.

A flat in Butterworth Path, High Town, went for £51,000 – less than half the price fetched by properties in the same street in recent years, according to the website

The Abbeygate Business Centre in Hitchin Road was sold for £210,000 in 2010, and a property at 21a St Kilda Road, Lewsey Farm, brought in £212,000.

The council has disposed of a number of sites for free, to help solve the town’s housing shortage.

These have included land at Hart Hill, Wigmore Lane, Falconers Road and Kestrel Way, all of which have been or will be used for building affordable housing.

Currently on the market are the last two council-owned care homes, The Laurels and Westlea, both of which the authority closed down earlier this year, and the former Hockwell Ring Day Centre. The Luton News understands the council is seeking a sale price of £1.2 million for Westlea.

Lib Dem group leader David Franks said the money was needed to fund the millions the council needed for capital projects including the busway, the inner ring road and improvements to Junction 10a of the M1.

“They have got a huge problem financing the capital programme,” he said. “They are several million pounds short of the money they need for the busway, they have borrowed £26 million to build the swimming pool and they’re going to need to find more funding for the Junction 10a improvement.

“They’re going to be millions short and the reason they are flogging things off is to try and plug that gap.”

A spokeswoman for the council said the cash from the sales had been used to fund “those parts of the council’s capital programme which are not funded from grants or other sources”, including building maintenance and asbestos removal, adding: “This is a policy which has been strongly encouraged by both the past and present governments and is used by all councils.”

No money from the sales had gone to the busway or Junction 10a, she said.

Asked about the sale of Westlea, the spokeswoman said: “The Westlea site is being marketed by the Council’s agents at the moment and several offers have been received.

“Officers will be considering the bids over the next few weeks before making a disposal recommendation to members.”