Kettering Council buys £5.2m Yorkshire office block

Kingfisher House in Wakefield.
Kingfisher House in Wakefield.

Kettering Council spent more than £5m on an office block more than 100 miles away.

The Conservative-run authority bought Kingfisher House in Durkar, just off the M1 to the south of Wakefield in Yorkshire, for £5.2m last month.

Kingfisher House in Wakefield.

Kingfisher House in Wakefield.

It’s the second seven-figure property deal kept under wraps they have made this year after buying the iconic RCI building for £4.35m in January.

The purchase was criticised by Cllr Jim Hakewill (Ind, Slade) who said: “I am astonished that the leadership at the borough council continue to gamble on buying commercial property.

“The problem is local government is being starved of funding but the answer is not to take on risks purchasing buildings all over the country.

“The professional bodies’ guidance is not to buy commercial property miles away from the council’s own area.

“But the residents of Kettering are now the proud owners of an office block in Wakefield.”

The 33,000 sq ft building is currently occupied by legal firm Minster Law. Details of the acquisition were made public in a report set to be discussed by the council’s monitoring and audit committee on Wednesday (April 10).

Council papers show the authority is expected to bring in £237,000 from the building in revenue per year, meaning it will take almost 22 years before the purchase becomes a profitable one.

The RCI purchase will take 14.5 years to become profitable under the council’s projections.

Cllr Hakewill said he had asked the council to buy Rothwell Library, threatened with closure, to ensure it has a sustainable future but was refused.

He said the capital could be better spent on other projects rather than building a commercial property portfolio.

He said: “When the borough of Kettering has an all-time high of homelessness, surely the solution would be to spend that capital on improving and buying houses?

“That would be a far better investment for the borough’s residents.”

A Kettering Council spokesman said the deal represented ‘a good addition’ to their portfolio.

They said: “This investment is in accordance with the council’s approved property investment strategy, which was agreed by the council’s cross-party asset management board.

“The investment is estimated to generate a return of around £237,000 per annum over and above the costs associated with the purchase and represents a good addition to the council’s property portfolio.”

When first asked for a comment, a council spokesman asked us to disclose which councillor had approached the paper about the matter. The details of the purchase were already in the public domain.