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Council considering plans to convert St Leonard’s House into student/young worker accommodation

John Freeman

Lancaster City Council has issued a full statement on its ongoing discussion about the future of St. Leonard's House, confirming that proposals to convert St Leonard’s House in Lancaster into student/young worker accommodation have been given the green light to progress to the next stage.

As we previously reported, Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet met last Tuesday to discuss the future of the Grade II listed building, which is currently partly let as office type accommodation. The discussion was an "exempt item" as it contains confidential commercially sensitive information, so the report on the building and its condition has not been made public.

The review was led by Property Group, which has been a shared service between Lancaster City Council and Lancashire County Council since May 2012 and Carillion has been appointed as the county council’s regeneration partner covering the Lancaster district through what is referred to as an Official Journal of the European Union procurement exercise.

We are told councillors heard that the building is under occupied, but it would need renewal works of around £2 million just to continue to operate in its current form. Much more would need to be spent to improve the general standard of accommodation on offer.

In view of this, alternative uses for the building have been explored, the preference being to see whether it could be converted for student/young worker accommodation.

The proposals and their feasibility will now be worked up in greater detail before a final decision is made on the future use of the building.

“The city council’s property portfolio has to be managed in a way that ensures value for money so as to protect other council services to the public, commented Councilor Tim Hamilton Cox, the Cabinet member with responsibility for property.

“St Leonard’s House has not been fully utilised as office accommodation for a number of years and it is no secret that the building's future has been under review for some time. The proposed redevelopment offers the best value to the council in terms of turning around an asset that has over time become a considerable liability.

"I'm only too aware that the charities, non-profits and other businesses operating there will face disruption but the city council will offer assistance in finding alternative accommodation, should they require it. Where leases expire earlier, we have arranged for organisations to stay on until at least 31st July in order to give them extra time to relocate."

Existing tenants have been informed that their leases will be brought to an end in 2014.