Hammersmith and Fulham Council is spending over £300,000 a year on the maintenance costs for empty buildings – including costs for insurance and security. I queried this with the Council after looking at the building costs in the portfolio management section of the Council’s “net spending by cost centre budget for last year.
It many ways the true position is worse and there are other buildings that are underused. For example Ravenscourt Stores in Ravenscourt Gardens costs the Council £45,759 a year to maintain. It is not empty as it is used for some storage but it is a valuable site that would be much better sold and used for housing.
By hoarding empty buildings the Council maintains higher debt – and thus interest charges – than if they were sold. It also has to pay maintenance costs for the properties. It also misses the chance to convert buildings – or redevelop sites – into much-needed housing. However where buildings are replaced the new buildings must be more attractive than what exists at present – thus it would also be a chance to make the borough more beautiful.