Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

'Urgent decision' made to sell empty council buildings

The buildings were accidentally sold without authorisation months ago

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The empty properties in Walthamstow Village (credit: Google Streetview)
By Victoria Munro 12 April 2022

An “urgent decision” was made to sell council-owned buildings today after an “administrative oversight” saw them sold months ago without approval.An “urgent decision” was made to sell council-owned buildings today after an “administrative oversight” saw them sold months ago without approval.

The two semi-detached buildings in Orford Road in Walthamstow Village have been vacant since 2014 and were recently the focus of a protest on the borough’s empty homes.The two semi-detached buildings in Orford Road in Walthamstow Village have been vacant since 2014 and were recently the focus of a protest on the borough’s empty homes.

Despite their poor repair, the buildings are valued at more than £1million and were sold to an undisclosed buyer in February.Despite their poor repair, the buildings are valued at more than £1million and were sold to an undisclosed buyer in February.

A report prepared for council leaders today states the council initially hoped its own housing company Sixty Bricks could develop the site but that it “could not develop a viable financial plan”.A report prepared for council leaders today states the council initially hoped its own housing company Sixty Bricks could develop the site but that it “could not develop a viable financial plan”.

The report reads: “A decision was made to dispose of the properties, which by this time were in significant disrepair… however, due to officer turnover in the property services team, it was discovered that no formal decision had been taken to authorise the disposal. The report reads: “A decision was made to dispose of the properties, which by this time were in significant disrepair… however, due to officer turnover in the property services team, it was discovered that no formal decision had been taken to authorise the disposal. 

“The council has asked the buyer to extend the completion date, which they have indicated agreement to, but only in return for a significant reduction in the purchase price. “The council has asked the buyer to extend the completion date, which they have indicated agreement to, but only in return for a significant reduction in the purchase price. 

“However, the buyer has not yet served notice to complete so there is a small window of opportunity to process the necessary approvals and complete the sale. “However, the buyer has not yet served notice to complete so there is a small window of opportunity to process the necessary approvals and complete the sale. 

“The only remaining alternative would be to return to auction, having paid significant damages to the current winning bidder. This would be a disproportionate response to an administrative oversight.”“The only remaining alternative would be to return to auction, having paid significant damages to the current winning bidder. This would be a disproportionate response to an administrative oversight.”

The report also notes that the buildings are in a conservation area, limiting the kind of building work that can be done on the site.The report also notes that the buildings are in a conservation area, limiting the kind of building work that can be done on the site.