Kelly to announce public building £1 sale

15-05-2007

Kelly to announce public building £1 sale
Communities secretary Ruth Kelly is expected to announce new plans to sell disused public buildings to community groups for as little as £1.

Under the new plans, unused buildings and sites such as hospitals, schools and other civic buildings would be sold to community groups for the low price if the group's work is seen to be beneficial to the local area.

"If you give local people more power, you'll get a better result," Ms Kelly is expected to argue today.

However the plans are likely to come under fire from some local councils. Many say that buildings owned by taxpayers should not be sold off so cheaply.

The announcement from Ms Kelly comes just days after local government minister Phil Woolas published new legislation aimed at encouraging empty shops, offices, factory and warehouse buildings back into commercial use as part of a package to "create thriving urban centres, renovate empty buildings and promote greater use of brownfield land".

Under the new legislation, due to come in next April, empty commercial property will only be liable for the full business rate after an initial rate-free period of three months, or six months for factories and warehouses.

"Charities and community amateur sports clubs will be granted a complete exemption from rates on their empty properties," the statement from the Communities and Local Government department read.



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