Sale of Grove House for £1.6 million

Grove House, Penleys Grove Street

Grove House, Penleys Grove Street

The former Grove House elderly persons home is being sold for £1.6 million.

The property was the subject of an unsuccessful attempt to list it as an asset of community value earlier in the year.

The sale price is less than the slightly larger Oliver House site fetched last year.

The site is both financially valuable and strategically important, lying just outside the city walls in a largely residential area.

A total of eleven bids were received for the site from nine bidders, seven of which are conditional upon planning permission being obtained.

There were a range of bids for different schemes with vastly different values ranging from £600k to some £1.6m.

The Executive will be asked to approve the Norstar Real Estates proposal as the preferred bid and if approved, the council will enter into detailed commercial discussions.  Norstar Real Estates placed the highest bid of £1.6m and are proposing to convert the existing building into 29 one bedroom flats for sale or rent, including on site affordable homes.

Oliver House redevelopment set for “go ahead”

Officials are recommending that planning permission by granted for the redevelopment of the Oliver House site.

Mccarthy and Stone Bishophill Mccarthy and Stone Bishophill2 Mccarthy and Stone Bishophill3 Mccarthy and Stone Bishophill4









The former elderly person’s home was sold by the Council to specialist developer McCarthy and Stone a year ago. The expectation was that apartments – aimed at older people – would be provided on the well located site.

As well as the £3.2 million capital receipt, the Council is now set receive over £500,000 to spend on providing “off-site” social housing units.

The main demand on the housing waiting list is for smaller properties which, when vacated, will free up family accommodation. The Council may need to act quickly to make use of the receipt or any vacated Council houses may have to be sold on the open market under new central government regulations.

The new Bishophill development will provide 34 homes with associated communal space and car parking.

The Council was heavily criticised for leaving Oliver House unused for over 2 years. Eventually it was sold by tender but it could still be over 18 months before the first homes there are occupied.

Harewood Whin

At a meeting on 15th September the Council is set to remove the requirement to provide a section of cycle path outside the new waste transfer station on Wetherby Road near Rufforth. The proposed road side path has been superseded by an alternative off road link which opened last year.

Now York Council misplaces horse and cart

Second worst in region for data breaches

Data breach report Aug 2015

Data breach report Aug 2015

A report published today reveals that in Yorkshire only Doncaster (106 cases)  had more breaches of data protection rules than the York Council.

A report by “Big Brother Watch  says York had the second highest number of incidents in the region with 73.

72 of these did not result in any disciplinary action.

The Council declined to provide details of the individual incidents. 

Nationally many cases resulted from the loss or theft of laptop computers

There were also 33 breaches in Kirklees, 26 in the East Riding and 12 in Wakefield.

The North Yorkshire County Council declined to respond to the FOI request.

Meanwhile more “cart before horse” secret decisions are taken

cart before horse

Before the horse slipped out of the York Council stable, there was  time for more decisions to be taken without any prior notice. 

These have included, so far, this week:

Sale of Oliver House – York Council finally set to take right decision next week

After a wholly unnecessary delay of over 3 months, it seems that the York Council will finally accept the highest bid received for the empty Oliver House building next week,.

It will bring to an end a saga which started 3 years ago,

Oliver House York

The site, which also includes an additional area of land currently occupied by garaging, is “both financially valuable and strategically important, lying in a largely residential area within the city walls”.

The site was put on the open market after the original proposal by York CVS to run a Social Care Hub from Oliver House did not have a sufficiently robust business case.

A total of 27 bids were received for the site from 23 bidders.

Each bid was then assessed, with points awarded for the capital value of the bid (60%); the ‘value’ of the bid to the local community (20%) and the deliverability of the scheme (20%).

No decision on Oliver House sale before June

…as York Council slides further into debt

According to The Press the York Council leadership has now said that the tenders received for the sale of Oliver House will not be considered until a new Council “Cabinet” has its first meeting in June.

Oliver House York

The former elderly person’s home has been empty for over 2 years.

We reported last week that an unexpectedly high £3.2 million bid, which would see 30 specialist older persons apartments provided on the site, had been deferred by the Council Leader.

Now it turns out that the sale will be delayed until the new Council, being elected on 7th May, has had time to sort out its new committees.

How long the offers will remain on the table remains to be seen.

Council debts spiralling

The full impact of the Councils financial management polices is becoming clearer. A freedom of information response has revealed a spiralling mountain of debt.

Capital debts - click to enlarge

Capital debts – click to enlarge

The response reveals that, since the Liberal Democrats lost control of the Council in May 2011, the Council has been borrowing heavily.  

The debt charges (interest payments) are partly responsible for the cuts that Labour are making to front line services.

Part of the debt increase was due to a transfer of historic housing debt to the City but this was coupled with a decision to allow all rents collected to be retained and used to service the interest payments.

The present Council also has several major projects in the pipeline which could add to the debt burden.

They include the conversion of the Guildhall into a media centre (£9 million) as well as funding a bridge into the York central site (£11 million).

The Council will also have to find several million to fund a replacement elderly care building programme following the abandonment of the care village project last month.

There is no excuse for any further delay in selling Oliver House to the highest bidder.

Legally, the Council has no other option

Indecision grips Council on “no brainer”

The Council Leader failed to take a decision today on which tender to accept for the sale of Oliver House, which has been empty for 2 years..

24 bids were received for the site with the highest being for £3.2 million. 

The income is desperately needed by the York Council to plug major gaps in its budget.

It may be that Labour Councillors are now trying to appease their Green party coalition partners who bizarrely suggested last week that the Council should accept the lowest bid offered for the property.

The full list of bidders and offers is reproduced below.

It would be unlawful for the Council to accept a bid which was more than £2 million below the highest offer received.

Oliver House bid appraisal March 2015 click to enlarge

Oliver House bid appraisal March 2015 click to enlarge

£3.2 million bid for Oliver House site

A bid by McCarthy & Stone for a 30 apartment retirement home scheme is the clear tender winner  at £3.324m for the Oliver House site according to Council papers published this evening.

 Oliver House

Oliver House

The bid is much higher than the initial £400,000 valuation put on the site by Council officials who had obviously under-estimated the buoyancy of the recovering property market in York.

The next highest bid was a 29 bed retirement scheme from Churchill Retirement at £2.850m.

The lowest value bid came from Yorspace at £750,000. This bid had received a lot of publicity in The Press but is so far below the market value that the Council could not legally accept it (without Secretary of State authority).

Officials are recommending that negotiations with the highest bidder proceed.

Oliver House has been empty for 2 years. Slow progress on its sale has been heavily criticised by Council taxpayers


Council still spending £30,000 a year on empty elderly persons home

Call to reallocate money to save mid day meals for elderly

Oliver House York

Oliver House – the former old people’s home in Bishophill – is still standing empty.

It has now been empty for 30 months following the closure of the home in April 2012.

A sale would mean that, not only will the Council no longer be responsible for the £30,000 annual maintenance and rates costs, but a substantial capital receipt of over £500,000 could be expected.

In December 2013, the Council finally decided to put the property on the market. With the recession easing it was expected that the prime site would quickly be snapped up by housing developers.

However we understand that it could be another month before offers are finally invited.

Meanwhile the Councils decision to cease the mid day meal services for residents living in some of its sheltered housing units continues to attract criticism.

The council says that it needs to save £50,000 a year on the service.

It seems that it has a ready solution to its budget problems.

However, prompt action is now needed.

Oliver House – Council on brink of making correct decision!

After nearly two years of indecision, the York Council is being recommended next week to put Oliver House (the former elderly person’s home at the end of Priory Street) on the open market.

Oliver House York

The building has been empty since the home was closed in April 2012.

The prime site is expected to bring in substantial offers from residential developers. The Council has budgeted to receive £450,000 from the sale of the site.

In reality the sale is likely to produce a much higher figure.

Any new homes provided there would reduce the pressure to build on greenfield land and would provide the Council with a useful capital receipt. It would help to offset the huge increase in debts accumulated by the present Labour administration.

The Council had been dithering over proposals to lease Oliver House to voluntary groups which are currently located in Holgate Villas. The Council spent £15,000 on a feasibility study for the conversion of the building. It revealed that the costs of converting the building could be as much as £1 million.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Additionally it has been costing the Council £30,000 a year to keep the building empty.

Local residents – led by Liberal Democrats – had expressed increasing concerns about the buildings future

Many pointed out that the voluntary groups involved did not need a prime site location and that it would make more sense for the Council to ensure that they had alternative rented accommodation available.
There is still a lot of unoccupied office space in the City.

It was hoped that suitable buildings might be identified in sub-urban locations which were in need of regeneration. Acomb, for example, has never recovered from the Councils decision to close its office in the Front Street area.

However, it now seems that the Council is restricting its office search to the city centre. Two possible locations are being evaluated

The office building is likely to include other uses and will be dubbed a “Health and Social Care Hub”. The Council is looking to replace it in 2 or 3 years time with a purpose designed facility. The NHS will make a financial contribution to this new “one stop shop” style centre.

The costs of the commercial office lease are expected to be covered by the rents paid by the tenants.

Oliver House – “we want some more information”

The Council has confirmed that a proposal, submitted earlier in the year by the CVS, to lease and improve Oliver House, proved not to be financially viable.


New terms are now being renegotiated with the expectation that a report will be considered at a meeting in December.

The property has been empty for 18 months and sits on a prime site which could generate a major capital receipt for the local taxpayer.

Conversion of residential sites like these to offices is very short-sighted.

The Council would be wiser to sell the site for development as housing and use the receipt to provide offices in a cheaper – possibly sub-urban – location.

This would have the additional advantage of regenerating one of our run down local high streets.

At a recent Council meeting Westfield Cllr Lynn Jeffries posed the following question to the responsible Cabinet member;