St Neots council buildings could be key to town's development

COUNTY council property in St Neots could be key to regeneration of the largest town in Cambridgeshire, which is set to expand rapidly over the next few years. The council has launched a programme, confusingly entitled BUPA (better utilisation of property

COUNTY council property in St Neots could be key to regeneration of the largest town in Cambridgeshire, which is set to expand rapidly over the next few years.

The council has launched a programme, confusingly entitled BUPA (better utilisation of property assets), under which it will examine all the property it owns and leases to provide the best fit with its activities and reduce its carbon footprint.

The exercise is at an early stage, the council stressed yesterday (Tuesday), and no decisions have been taken.

"We have quite a lot of buildings in St Neots, including those used by social services, and we see it as an opportunity to invest in the town," a spokesman said.


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"The review is about providing services in the most flexible way possible."

Included in it will be offices - with a possible reduction in the space required as more officials use laptop computers and other electronic aids away from the office - and school caretakers' houses, of which there are between 60 and 70 across the county - which could be sold to registered social landlords to add to the social housing stock.

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The programme is looking at the next 20 years' life of assets and was originally expected to generate around £27million in net capital receipts over a decade. Those figures may have to be revised in the light of recent movements in property prices.

County council cabinet member for corporate services, Councillor John Reynolds, said yesterday: "The county council continuously reviews its property assets. We need to ensure our buildings are efficient and fit for purpose. We need buildings that are sustainable and meet modern environmental and energy use requirements.

"It is essential we keep firm control of our fixed costs, reducing them whenever possible. In this way resources are maximised to meet the needs of providing services such as social care and transport, schools and roads.

"There are no proposals to change who runs the outdoor centres [such as Grafham Water], which will continue to be a key part of children's services."

Savings in running costs would be used to fund council services, the council added.

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