Council sold historic building at a discount – because of damage while they let it stand empty

Former school in Kilcreggan was only sold when a community buyout was proposed

The Rainbow Centre in Kilcreggan

A public building that was on the market for over five years was sold for nearly £15,000 below its asking price, it has been revealed.

The former Rainbow Centre in Kilcreggan was put on the market by Argyll and Bute Council for £95,000 in 2012, after the volunteers who had been running it as a community centre handed it back to the local authority.

Since then the council has repeatedly said that negotiations with a purchaser were ‘ongoing’, but this month it was finally sold – soon after a community buyout was proposed by Cove and Kilcreggan Youth Café.

In 2015 planning permission was given for change of use to build three houses on the site, but this seems not to have increased its value in the eyes of the council.

Argyll and Bute announced the sale earlier this month but said an inquiry about the price would be dealt with as  Freedom of Information request – this has still not been supplied.

In the meantime however land registry data showed the purchase price was £80,750, a d the council has confirmed tis, saying the price had been discounted because of damage suffered while it was standing empty.

The former school is a grade C listed – the council has a legal duty to ensure that listed buildings are maintained by their owners, and Its own policies on maintaining historic buildings advise owners to ‘Spend now, save later’ and regularly set aside funds for repairs.

Last year the council refused a request from this website to see the inside of the property; ironically, last weekend the council invited the public into its new Helensburgh office building as part of the national ‘doors open day’ events.

In May, following a long battle using Freedom of Information legislation, it was revealed here that the council owned dozens of properties, worth over £3m, which were standing empty.

Since then an account of unused property in the Helensburgh area has started to appear on agendas for the council’s local area committee.

The spokesperson said: “In the last few months the council has sold three surplus properties in the Helensburgh and Lomond area for a total of just over £215,000.

“The former school house, known locally as the Rainbow Centre on School Road in Kilcreggan was sold for £80,750.

“A commercial unit on Ferry Road, Rosneath, has been sold for £14,000. The new owners have plans to bring them both back into use.

“The former council and ACHA offices in James Street, Helensburgh, known as Scotcourt House has been sold for £121,000. The purchaser has submitted a planning application to upgrade the office accommodation and create space for martial arts training.

“The guide price of any property is intended to act as an indication of its perceived value and has to be tested on the open market.

“The property in Kilcreggan was openly marketed and a closing date was set and two offers were made both below the guide price.

“The council applied a discount to the purchase price due to damage which had occurred during the conveyancing period.

“In selling or leasing council owned property we always seek to secure best value for the public purse, benefitting both the council and the local community.”