Controversial proposed sale of small businesses base is defended by council

Leeds City Council has defended its plan to sell off the Aire Street Workshops, a former factory in the city centre where about 30 small companies are currently based.

Tenants of the property have until 31 January 2025 to vacate the building and the council has acknowledged the proposed sale has sparked concern for businesses operating there.

But the council also warns this is an ageing building, which requires major repairs and improvements.

A council spokesman said: “We estimate that, for its present use to continue, the building would require a seven-figure investment to ensure it meets regulatory and energy performance standards.

“The unprecedented budget pressures facing the council mean we are unfortunately not able to fund that level of investment.

“Even if the necessary funds were to be found and the work carried out, we anticipate the improvements to the building would have to be reflected by rent rises that would place an unfair burden on the current tenants.”

Leeds City Council says the building’s leaseholder, LCVS Enterprises, would have known about the council’s likely intentions for the building since September last year.

And the council notes that it began discussions with LCVS as long ago as 2016 regarding the poor condition of the building.

The spokesman added: “As a council, we have been clear that, in light of our financial challenges, difficult decisions are having to be made across many service areas.

“We are keenly aware of the contribution made to life in Leeds by small businesses of the kind found in Aire Street Workshops.

“Our business support team will develop a targeted package of support for affected tenants over the coming weeks which, it is hoped, will help that contribution to continue and grow.

“The council can also confirm that, as part of the sale and bidder selection process, it will be willing to receive a range of offers, including ones that could allow the building to operate as a form of managed workspace.”

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