Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



£2.8m a year spent on empty buildings

Sky News has criticised the “millions of pounds a year” that it says are wasted by the Department of Health on rent on empty buildings following an investigation. The report focused on a Christchurch health centre which has been rented for the past 22 years despite being empty.


The property was apparently originally rented by the local health authority on a lease in 1972. It has been out of use since 1989 - but Sky said £450,00 in rates and service charges have been paid since. A further £2m is set to be spent on the building over the 50 years that the tenancy has left to run.

[quote top= A spokesperson for the Department of Health conceded] This is an unacceptable use of public money and this Government is determined to sort it out. We are in discussions with the landlord of Christchurch Health Centre to negotiate the surrender of the lease. Guidance has been issued to the NHS to guard against similar bad practice occurring in future leasehold deals. [/quote]

Sky estimated that the Department of Health shells out around £2.8m per year for a total of 25 empty empty buildings. Nathan East, of property experts Hempsons, was quoted by Sky News as saying: "The total unused floor space is equivalent to the entire floor space of Sainsbury and Waitrose combined. When building hospitals, one used to look at clinical need rather than space and efficiency. Now cost efficiency is more of an issue.

"But you can't deal with this easily during a recession. If you were to flood the market with empty properties you would simply devalue them, so it has to be done over time. There's no quick fix."

This problem will soon be exacerbated when further estates become surplus to requirements following the abolition of Primary Care Trusts.