Marlborough town councillors agree to buy two studio flats in Kingsbury Street
At an extraordinary meeting of the full town council (Monday, November 21), Marlborough councillors agreed to buy two studio flats at 3 Kingsbury Street. This will give the town council ownership of the whole building.
The cost to the council will be £155,000. The flats, which were social housing and have been left empty for some time, are owned by Aster Communities.
The issues around this property purchase have been discussed at several previous meetings and councillors came to a vote quite quickly. The sale of these flats will be a further reduction in the availability of social housing in the town.
The Town Mayor, who chaired the meeting, said: “This is a good investment opportunity and brings the building into the total ownership of the Town Council. We will now look at the possibility of refurbishing these flats which could offer affordable accommodation, something much needed in the town.”
The council already owns the adjacent 1/2 Kingsbury Street with the Helen and Douglas House charity shop. Councillor Guy Loosmore told the meeting that the addition of two flats in that part of the town "...would be an important part of our portfolio."
If councillors agree to a price for making the flats and the communal areas fit to rent out, they would be priced at 'affordable rent' levels. The town council cannot provide social housing.
As Councillor Mervyn Hall put it: "Two affordable flats near the centre of town must be a good investment - and will produce income."
The money to buy the flats will come from the council's general reserves, which stand at £254,667. Several councillors argued that the flats would give the council a new source of income whereas, with interest rates so very low, the reserves are earning practically nothing to help meet the council's increasing number of responsibilities.
The purchase will take the town council's general reserves below the 'best practice' level and they will probably be made up again with a transfer from one of the so far unused ear-marked reserve accounts.
Councillor Peggy Dow said the two flats will "...need to be for local people - as well as being affordable." But the Town Clerk warned: "Putting stipulations as to who can live there may be very difficult indeed."