A FORMER industrial building bought and revamped at a cost of £500,000 under a Sheffield communities project is set to cost the public a further £102,500.
Sheffield Council has said it has found a tenant for Forum House in Burngreave prepared to sign a long-term lease.
The council has approved further refurbishment work plus fees and charges, so the building – derelict since regeneration agency Burngreave New Deal for Communities was wound up in 2011 – can be brought back into use.
The council said the building, at the bottom of Spital Hill, needs roof repairs and other work before it can be used again – but the authority will recoup the investment ‘many times over’ through rent and business rates.
Training provider Hamilton College has said it is willing to move into the building.
But Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, council opposition Liberal Democrat leader, said: “We’ve heard all this before in terms of spending money to supposedly get a return.
“Sorby House, further up Spital Hill, cost £4.5 million to upgrade and was supposed to attract tenants to cover its costs, but is running at a loss.
“I am concerned we are putting more money into Burngreave New Deal for Communities projects while at the same time cutting essential services.”
Coun Bryan Lodge, council cabinet member for finance, has defended the decision, saying leaving the property empty is losing the council £17,000 a year in business rates, plus £5,000 in annual security charges.
The building will be leased to Hamilton for 10 years, bringing in £333,000 in rent.
Put together with income from business rates and no longer having to pay for security, the council is set to gain £550,000 over the next decade.
Coun Lodge said: “It may seem a large cost up-front, but we will recoup the money many times over.”
Where should Sheffield Council be spending its money?