Managing Council owned properties, East Ayrshire Council Cabinet approves latest report

At Cabinet this week, East Ayrshire Council set out plans for managing its property assets for the year ahead. The extensive portfolio covers 298 buildings across a number of service areas including education, corporate, wellbeing, sports and outdoors and cultural and community assets.

Under the terms of the Property Management Plan, properties are assessed against a set of criteria to determine how well the buildings are performing, and they are then categorised as Red, Amber or Green.  For each building these criteria take into account:

  • general condition
  • condition of the different building components
  • suitability
  • utilisation
  • accessibility
  • energy efficiency

This year’s assessment found:

  • approximately 60% of the Council’s assets are performing well (green)
  • 35% are performing as expected, with some remedial actions required (amber)
  • approximately 6% of properties are considered to be underperforming (red)

For 28 properties which fall into the amber and red categories, a number of recommendations were put forward. Consideration was also given to prioritising issues identified and the relative costs required to maintain our properties at an acceptable standard. 

Maintenance and Lifecycle replacement is only one part of the Council’s wider £1 billion Capital Investment Programme, with the Property Management Plan assessment identifying priorities that help inform this wider investment while addressing ongoing maintenance needs.

It is estimated that addressing priority needs of all our properties over the next three years will cost in the region of £12.775 million. Spending priorities will include:

  • fire safety and security improvements
  • external fabric and structural components
  • drainage and groundworks
  • mechanical, electrical and lighting upgrades
  • window replacement and other external fabric improvements
  • toilet refurbishment
  • boiler plant replacements and improved energy management

Climate Change features heavily in these plans as the Council strives to decarbonise its property portfolio. Many buildings across the estate are failing the assessment due to the lack of energy efficient measures.  This means additional funding will be required in future to make sure the Council meets its net zero aspirations by 2030.

Some prominent properties have been identified as surplus to requirements, for example Civic Centre North and Civic Centre South, in the corporate portfolio.It is proposed that these will be marketed for potential interest and sale. 

Others in the same portfolio need reassessment of usage and purpose in relation to the Council’s Smarter Working policy – and these include London Road headquarters in Kilmarnock and Rothesay House in Cumnock. 

The report also identifies potential opportunities for a number of cultural and community buildings. This includes a possible collaboration with the East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership and the Cevic Centre  in Catrine as an alternative location for Catrine Day Centre services; whilst the future of the White Tile Building in Kilmarnock will be determined by the newly established Strategic Group for Kilmarnock Town Centre.

A handful of properties have been earmarked for demolition on the basis of their poor condition, lack of commercial interest and the ongoing financial burden to the council of retaining them in their current state. These include 2-4 Browns Road, Newmilns; the former band hall, Darvel; former schoolhouse, Dalmellington and Fenwick Pavilion.

Councillor Claire Maitland, Cabinet Spokesperson with responsibility for Planning, Human Resources and Property welcomed the Property Management Plan saying: “As an organisation we are faced with significant financial challenges as a result of the global economic crisis, and it’s vital that we keep a watchful eye on such an extensive property portfolio. The world has changed over the last few years and our needs and service requirements have also changed too. So this means we need to review our property assets to make sure they are all fit for purpose. 

“We have made significant investment in our property over recent years and continue to support communities to maximise the value of local assets. 

“For the future, our Property Management Plan will make sure that our properties are fit for purpose, but we need to acknowledge that in some cases this means changes of use, bringing new life into our communities. 

“We target our investment in places to provide value to our communities, prioritising schools, community and wellbeing facilities, leisure and cultural buildings. This means it’s important we take the right opportunities to reduce costs of those buildings which are surplus to requirements.

"As a result of our discussions in cabinet, it was agreed that our Head of Facilities and Property Management will bring forward a further report to Cabinet on the specifics of our  Office Accommodation Strategy - pre pandemic we were already moving towards a more flexible "smarter working" model and this has been accelerated - so we need to revisit the need for, condition and current and future usage of our office accommodation throughout East Ayrshire.

"For the buildings we own in Kilmarnock town centre,  we  also agreed  that all proposals will be included in a report to the newly formed Kilmarnock Strategic Group for their consideration."

“The decisions taken today recognise the challenges we face while helping us focus on local priorities. What's clear is all buildings have to have a sustainable use, and this report gives us a basis to act on this in conjunction with our partners, communities and businesses in making the most of our assets."

Read the Cabinet report

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