A former council headquarters could be sold to hotel developers for £1, despite its local authority owner paying £2.5 million a year to rent office space a few streets away.
A row has erupted over the Perth and Kinross Council’s plan to sell 1-5 High Street for the nominal fee while also footing the bill for £1.9 million in heritage funding.
Opposition councillors are concerned the property could be sold despite the rental bill for offices nearby at Pullar House.
Strathallan SNP councillor Tom Gray believes changes to working life in the wake of Covid-19 will mean less office space is needed by Perth and Kinross Council making 1-5 High Street a viable location.
Mr Gray said: “The whole debate over what to do with 1-5 High street commenced years ago but did establish that an overhaul of the premises could provide 100 office workstations there at a 2021 cost of £5 million.
“Perth and Kinross Council currently spend £2.5 million per year in rent for the Pullar House accommodation.
“The £1.9 million to be found by Perth and Kinross Council to conclude the proposed deal amounts to almost 40% of the £5 million cost of redeveloping Perth and Kinross Council’s own building for their own use and very possibly meeting its own office space requirements at what is currently costing the same amount for office space over only a two year period.
“It is both prudent and sound common sense to delay any decision on a hotel conversion until the council has established if its own future office requirements would be a fit at 1-5 High Street at the termination of the current Pullar House agreement.”
Independent councillor for Highland Perthshire, Xander McDade, has been a long-time advocate of stopping the use of Pullar House and believes bringing 1-5 High Street back into use is a “no-brainer”.
“We believe that 1-5 High Street and a number of other buildings the council owns could be used as part of this strategy and even after refurbishment capital costs would free up a significant ongoing saving that could be put towards frontline services instead of a private landlords profits.
“I would urge the Conservative-led administration to give real consideration to this proposal that I’m now delighted to say has achieved cross party support from other council groups and many members of the public who think it is a no-brainer.”
Perth and Kinross Council did not respond to questions regarding the rental of Pullar House but have stated the cost of operating the abandoned 1-5 High Street building is £143,000 per annum.