- THE tenants of Crown House – the Kidderminster office block once labelled one of the country’s biggest eyesores – have pulled out of plans to demolish it at the 11th hour, to the anger of district council chiefs.
Telereal Trillium are citing ‘financial reasons’ for their decision to renege on the deal.
Last September Wyre Forest District Council announced that a deal had been agreed in principle with the tenant, Telereal Trillium. It would have seen Telereal fund the demolition of the building, and in exchange the council would accept a surrender of the lease, which still has 49 years left.
This would have allowed Telereal to walk away from the site and enable the council to progress redevelopment. However, Telereal has now reneged on the deal.
To add insult to injury, Telereal Trillium had successfully applied to the Valuation Office Agency to have Crown House taken off the ratings list, so it no longer has to pay business rates.
In light of the non-demolition news, the council has now submitted counter proposals to the VOA to ask for the building to be brought back onto the list. It believes the building is economically viable for the tenants to use, whether for offices or another commercial purpose.
At the moment, Telereal’s only regular financial outgoing on the building is the rent it pays to Wyre Forest District Council. Telereal has decided not to fund the demolition, preferring to retain the empty building.
Councillor Marcus Hart, Leader of Wyre Forest District Council said:
“I’m very angry and frustrated at what Telereal Trillium has done. Our officers have spent the last 12 months negotiating very complex arrangements in good faith with Telereal to reach a position where the council would accept the surrender of the lease and they would undertake the demolition of the building. All the legal paperwork was in place and in fact the council had signed it all off but, when it came to Telereal signing, they pulled out.”
He went on to say:
“I’m bitterly disappointed that Telereal Trillium has decided they would rather let the building lie vacant for the remainder of the period of the lease. It means for the residents of the district and visitors to the town that Crown House will remain an ugly eyesore that continues to undermine all the other improvements going on in the town. Telereal aren’t present in the town and this decision just reinforces the fact that they don’t really care at all what happens to Kidderminster. I imagine we aren’t the only town where this is the case.”
Councillor Nathan Desmond, Cabinet Member for Resources said:
“This is a real blow for the town, but residents can be sure that we will be doing all that we can to persuade the VOA to get the building back on the rating list again. We will also be making sure Telereal carry out all their obligations as tenant to maintain the building. The council made a commitment that the demolition of Crown House should not cost the Wyre Forest Council taxpayer a penny and that remains our position. The rent the council receives, even for an empty property, is important. We simply cannot allow a multinational property company like Telereal Trillium to fail to keep the building well maintained, surrender the lease and leave the council to foot the bill for demolishing the building.”
Councillor Helen Dyke, Member Champion for Place, said:
“After all the work that the council is putting in to improve the look and feel of the town it is a great shame that this deal has fallen through. We hoped that this major company would work with us to improve the appearance of the town and support its retailers.”
A spokesperson at Telereal Trillium said: “It has taken longer than Telereal Trillium anticipated to reach agreement along the terms previously discussed with Wyre Forest District Council and as a result we are now re-evaluating our financial position in relation to Crown House.
Telereal Trillium continues to be supportive in the facilitation of regeneration of this strategic town centre site, including the demolition, and is hopeful a revised mutually acceptable solution can be reached. We continue to pay rent and keep the building safe and secure.”
ABOUT TELEREAL TRILLIUM
The company is the largest privately owned property company in the UK. Operating in property partnerships, investment, development, and strategic land, it claims to have a presence in every city and major town in the UK.
Just last month it announced it had jointly secured the £1.46 billion acquisition of Network Rail’s commercial real estate portfolio, and it also handles the Department of Work and Pensions portfolio of buildings.