Almost 40 publicly-owned buildings with a total value of more than £3.3m are standing empty across Argyll and Bute.
Several of the buildings are of historic or architectural significance – and all are owned by Argyll and Bute Council, which has slashed frontline services in recent years.
The most valuable empty property is Blairvadach, the former council headquarters in Shandon, at £1.2m, but three of the other properties are listed as having a value of just £1 – and two are shown as having a ‘net book value’ of nothing at all.
Blairvadach (pictured) has been empty since the council moved to its new offices in East Clyde Street, Helensburgh, in November 2015.
The council tried in vain to sell the B-listed building in the early 2000s and it was the subject of a break-in while standing empty in February last year.
This week a council spokeperson said: “There has been recent private sector interest in Blairvadach and our property development and estates team has been in direct discussion with the interested party.
“We are also exploring joint opportunities with the Royal Navy.”
The Ministry of Defence already owns two other listed buildings in Shandon which are standing empty, as revealed here last year.
The council has cut spending dramatically in response to successive cutbacks in grants from the Scottish Government, with school crossing patrols reduced and school librarians axed.
Many of the empty buildings have been on the market, and often ‘under offer’ for some years, and given the cutbacks elsewhere this failure maximise income while incurring maintenance costs will raise questions.
Several of the properties are Listed, and the council has a duty to ensure they are maintained, which is made more difficult by the fact the buildings are empty.
The council spokesperson said: “We always look to secure best value for the public purse, seeking to benefit both the council and the local community, when selling or leasing council owned property.
“We promote a varied portfolio of properties and operate in a market that is subject to a number factors such as: the purchasers ability to obtain funding; supply and demand; and securing all relevant permissions, consents and related titles before sales are concluded. Some of our higher value properties will be advertised nationally through an estate agent.
“We regularly inspect our empty properties to ensure they are secure and safe.”
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