THE sale of Preston’s Bluebell Way park and ride site is just the start of a major sell-off of Lancashire County council’s “family silver” with key sites round the county on the market now, recently sold and many more likely to follow.
Properties up for auction today at Manchester-based Pugh auction firm, include offices in Clayton Green Business Park, near Chorley and a six-acre farm in Penwortham.
Agent Knight Frank is marketing the council’s Bluebell Way site as suitable for a variety of uses.
County Coun David Borrow, deputy leader of the county council, said the Fulwood site was now surplus to the council’s needs.
He said: “A decision has been taken to sell this site as it’s no longer required by the county council.”
For Tory opposition group leader Coun Geoff Driver it’s about time too. The 548-place park and ride site was the work of a previous Labour administration at county hall.
One thing the local authority is not is a property holding company...but we shouldn’t be doing a fire sale
He said: “It was a white elephant from day one and I just hope the county council can get the appropriate level of funding from the sale. It’s long overdue.”
He added: “It should never, ever have been developed as a park and ride unless there was going to be a dedicated bus from it straight into the centre of Preston. You used to be lucky if you saw one or two cars on there.”
He said the car park was once linked to a Preston orbital route creating a journey of at least 45-60 minutes to get into the town centre.
“I agree with the principle,” he said.
“One thing the local authority is not is a property holding company...but we shouldn’t be doing a fire sale.
“We should be sure the properties we are getting rid of won’t be needed in the future for the county council.”
Coun Borrow said: “Any land or buildings which are no longer needed to provide county council services are offered to partner organisations, such as district councils.
“This can sometimes take time to carry out, but it is an important part of the process. If no viable plans come forward, we put the buildings up for sale, which brings in additional funds to the county council and helps towards our challenging financial position.”
In 2013 the council unveiled proposals for the site to become a new business park, calling in regeneration partners Eric Wright Group to advise.
The council has, over the years, also had talks with the Royal Preston Hospital, BAe Systems and PNE (Preston North End) as it cast around for a use for the site. One company even wanted to provide a tram link from the car park to the city centre.
Now Knight Frank’s eight-page sales brochure for Bluebell Way suggests the ‘prime location’, next to the slip road to the M6 southbound motorway, will be suitable for general industrial, business, storage and distribution use. It could also be home to a restaurant and cafes, a drinking establishment or used for car sales.
The disposal of properties started in earnest when former residential college Alston Hall, near Longridge, a Gothic style Victorian mansion with river views, was sold off in May.
Many more properties are expected to be put on the market when negotiations are concluded on the future of teens of surplus buildings, which the council recently voted to close down.
The closures follow approval of the council’s cost cutting “property strategy” which will see multiple services based in new Neighbourhood Centres.
Sales will follow if there are no successful community asset transfer bids for properties such as Fulwood and Bamber Bridge libraries, which closed at the end of September. The council has not yet named a final deadline for expressions of interest in the library buildings. It’s been predicted between £8m and £11m could be raised from the sale of this redundant property portfolio which includes children’s centre, libraries and offices,
Other properties for sale or recently sold include:
• SIZER HOUSE, MOOR LANE, PRESTON
Offers of around £1m are being invited for Sizer House on Moor Lane, currently occupied by UCLan,
Pugh has been appointed to sell the former council resource centre in the city’s university quarter by private treaty. The company advises: “Although currently let to UCLan the property does provide a long term development opportunity.”
UCLan, which refurbished the property, pays £110,000 a year to rent the offices and the one acre site includes 19 car parking spaces. The present rental agreement expires in December and UCLan has said it wants to rent for a further three years.
• LAND OFF LIVERPOOL ROAD, HUTTON
This 5.7 acre parcel of agricultural land next to Hutton Grammar School has recently been sold for residential development. It has full planning consent for 46 homes The planning permission includes a public open space and a 16 space car park. Formal tenders had to be submitted by September 16 and it is sold subject to contract.
• WINCKLEY SQUARE office blocks: WINCKLEY HOUSE,PRESTON, 58-60 GUILDHALL STREET, PRESTON and GUILD HOUSE,PRESTON
These three office premises neighbouring Winckley Square in the heart of the city are being marketed by the national land and development team at CBRE:UK. They were offered for sale separately or together and although the formal bidding period is closed no sale has yet been agreed, but offers are being considered.
If appropriate permissions are obtained tt’s predictedthe site could have residential or commercial use. There have also been discussions with Preston City Council about demolishing the trio - all built in the 1960s’ - and creating redevelopment sites in line with the city council’s desire to maintain the Winckley Square area as a “prestigious place to live, work and spend leisure time”.
Winckley House is a six-storey, concrete frame building. the Guildhall Street property is four storey and Guild House is a five storey
building. All offer car parking places.
• POLLARDS FARM, HOWICK CROSS LANE, PENWORTHAM
The former dairy farm has been disused since 2004 and was once also used as a milk and fruit juice bottling and distribution centre. The six acre site had a guide price of £300,000 but this has dropped to £275,000 plus and is up for auction with Pugh next week. The site once had planning permission for ten properties.
• 29 STATION RD, KIRKHAM
Pugh and Co are seeking offers around £220,000 for the former council offices next to Pear Tree School. The main building was formerly two semidetached houses and it’s suggested they could be split again. The building and .46 acre site is being marketed as having “development potential”.
• UNIT A CLAYTON GREEN BUSINESS PARK, LIBRARY ROAD, CHORLEY
This two-storey office block had a guide price of £400,000 and is offered with the remainder of a 999 year lease. It is now listed for auction with a guide price of £350,000 plus.
• 29 SOUTH AVENUE, MORECAMBE
-Offers around £140,00 are invited for this former children’s respite care home
• PADIHAM SCHOOL site
The former Padiham Primary School brown field site on Burnley Road is for sale with Petty Chartered Surveyors as is 1.5 acres of land at West Street, Padiham.
• FORMER CAUSEWAY STORAGE DEPOT, RUFFORD
- guide price £10,000 plus
• FORMER COUNCIL DEPOT AND BARN, BROAD LANE, AUGHTON
- guide price £250,000 plus.
Properties sold in the last six months also include: the Golden Hill school annexe on Cromwell Rd, Preston, Rydal House and Calder House social care facilitates in Chorley, two smallholdings on the Maghull agricultural estate, register offices at Nicholas Street, Burnley, the Hampson Green highways office at Galgate, woodland at Station Road, Rufford. A sale has been agreed on Smithy Farm, Aughton which had a guide price of around £175,000.