No decision on Oliver House sale before June

…as York Council slides further into debt

According to The Press the York Council leadership has now said that the tenders received for the sale of Oliver House will not be considered until a new Council “Cabinet” has its first meeting in June.

Oliver House York

The former elderly person’s home has been empty for over 2 years.

We reported last week that an unexpectedly high £3.2 million bid, which would see 30 specialist older persons apartments provided on the site, had been deferred by the Council Leader.

Now it turns out that the sale will be delayed until the new Council, being elected on 7th May, has had time to sort out its new committees.

How long the offers will remain on the table remains to be seen.

Council debts spiralling

The full impact of the Councils financial management polices is becoming clearer. A freedom of information response has revealed a spiralling mountain of debt.

Capital debts - click to enlarge

Capital debts – click to enlarge

The response reveals that, since the Liberal Democrats lost control of the Council in May 2011, the Council has been borrowing heavily.  

The debt charges (interest payments) are partly responsible for the cuts that Labour are making to front line services.

Part of the debt increase was due to a transfer of historic housing debt to the City but this was coupled with a decision to allow all rents collected to be retained and used to service the interest payments.

The present Council also has several major projects in the pipeline which could add to the debt burden.

They include the conversion of the Guildhall into a media centre (£9 million) as well as funding a bridge into the York central site (£11 million).

The Council will also have to find several million to fund a replacement elderly care building programme following the abandonment of the care village project last month.

There is no excuse for any delay in selling Oliver House to the highest bidder.

Legally the Council has no other option

Oliver House bonansa for taxpayers

A bid by McCarthy & Stone for a 30 apartment retirement home scheme is the clear tender winner  at £3.324m for the Oliver House site according to Council papers published this evening.

 Oliver House

Oliver House

The bid is much higher than the initial £400,00 valuation put on the site by Council officials who had obviously under-estimated the buoyancy of the recovering property market in York.

The next highest bid was a 29 bed retirement scheme from Churchill Retirement at £2.850m.

The lowest value bid came from Yorspace at £750,000. This bid had received a lot of publicity in The Press but is so far below the market value that the Council could not legally accept it (without Secretary of State authority).

Officials are recommending that negotiations with the highest bidder proceed.

Oliver House has been empty for 2 years. Slow progress on its sale has been heavily criticised by Council taxpayers


Oliver House – Council on brink of making correct decision!

After nearly two years of indecision, the York Council is being recommended next week to put Oliver House (the former elderly person’s home at the end of Priory Street) on the open market.

Oliver House York

The building has been empty since the home was closed in April 2012.

The prime site is expected to bring in substantial offers from residential developers. The Council has budgeted to receive £450,000 from the sale of the site.

In reality the sale is likely to produce a much higher figure.

Any new homes provided there would reduce the pressure to build on greenfield land and would provide the Council with a useful capital receipt. It would help to offset the huge increase in debts accumulated by the present Labour administration.

The Council had been dithering over proposals to lease Oliver House to voluntary groups which are currently located in Holgate Villas. The Council spent £15,000 on a feasibility study for the conversion of the building. It revealed that the costs of converting the building could be as much as £1 million.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Additionally it has been costing the Council £30,000 a year to keep the building empty.

Local residents – led by Liberal Democrats – had expressed increasing concerns about the buildings future

Many pointed out that the voluntary groups involved did not need a prime site location and that it would make more sense for the Council to ensure that they had alternative rented accommodation available.
There is still a lot of unoccupied office space in the City.

It was hoped that suitable buildings might be identified in sub-urban locations which were in need of regeneration. Acomb, for example, has never recovered from the Councils decision to close its office in the Front Street area.

However, it now seems that the Council is restricting its office search to the city centre. Two possible locations are being evaluated

The office building is likely to include other uses and will be dubbed a “Health and Social Care Hub”. The Council is looking to replace it in 2 or 3 years time with a purpose designed facility. The NHS will make a financial contribution to this new “one stop shop” style centre.

The costs of the commercial office lease are expected to be covered by the rents paid by the tenants.

Oliver House – “we want some more information”

The Council has confirmed that a proposal, submitted earlier in the year by the CVS, to lease and improve Oliver House, proved not to be financially viable.


New terms are now being renegotiated with the expectation that a report will be considered at a meeting in December.

The property has been empty for 18 months and sits on a prime site which could generate a major capital receipt for the local taxpayer.

Conversion of residential sites like these to offices is very short-sighted.

The Council would be wiser to sell the site for development as housing and use the receipt to provide offices in a cheaper – possibly sub-urban – location.

This would have the additional advantage of regenerating one of our run down local high streets.

At a recent Council meeting Westfield Cllr Lynn Jeffries posed the following question to the responsible Cabinet member;


Oliver House- the parking issue

Thanks to those residents from the Bishophill are who contacted us to say that some people are apparently exploiting the Oliver House situation to get free car parking.

The property is located in the middle of a ResPark area with residents paying around £100 a year (depending on car size) for parking permits.

Cars parked at Oliver House

Cars parked at Oliver House

Apparently some drivers are monopolising the car parking spaces which were provided for the use of staff and residents at the elderly persons home.

The 8 spaces could bring in around £1000 a year from car parking charges.

On Sunday only one of the parked vehicles was displaying ResPark pass suggesting that the Council is loosing out on potential income.

It’s about time that the Council explained what is going to happen with this building and when.

Oliver House – £30,000 taxpayers bill for property empty for 18 months

It has become clear why the Council’s leadership were so reluctant to answer questions about the future of the former elderly person’s home at Oliver House in Bishophill at the last council meeting.

Oliver House York

A Freedom of Information response has revealed that the building is costing taxpayers nearly £2000 a month to keep empty.

The building has been unused since April 2012.

The only “occupants” are a firm called “ad hoc property management” who – in return for access – offer a “free” security service.

No rent or other income has been received for the property.

Discussions with the York CVS, which might have led to the building being sold to them, started in May 2012. They stalled several months ago.

The value of the prime site has been put at over £1 million with offers having apparently already been made, to the Council, by housing developers.

The Council has spent £30,000 over the last 18 months paying rates and on maintaining the empty property.

There are currently over 4500 people on the waiting list for social accommodation in the City. Many of these require single person accommodation

NB. The Guildhall has also now been empty for 8 months and is costing Council taxpayers around £160,000 a year in maintenance, rates and other costs.