Council buys up Crawley office block in £8 million deal

Ashdown House in Crawley High Street. Photo: Google SUS-160526-165733001
Ashdown House in Crawley High Street. Photo: Google SUS-160526-165733001

An office building in the centre of Crawley has been bought by Crawley Borough Council for more than £8 million - in a bid to boost council income.

The property - Ashdown House in Crawley High Street - is the second office block the council has bought in an attempt to generate ‘alternative sources of income to support its services to the public.’

Ashdown House is home to global insurance firm ACE INA Services UK which recently acquired the Chubb company.

Crawley Council says that the four-storey office building has been recently upgraded by the tenants and will generate more than £633,000 a year in rent.

Councillors have agreed a total of £15m for commercial property purchases since 2013, which they says has enabled the council ‘to make purchases where there is a sound business case and no undue risk.’

Councillor Peter Smith, cabinet member for planning and economic development, said: “The rental income generated from our investment in Ashdown House will be used to help fund council services and we’re very pleased to have secured this investment and expand our commercial portfolio.

“Central government has continually reduced local government grants since 2010 and this is just one way we are working to offset these large cuts.”

The council says its commercial property estate – primarily neighbourhood shops, light industrial units and workshops – is an important source of funding for council services, bringing in about £5.25m per year and providing ‘a reliable income to spend on council services

Chris Lewis, head of office investment at Cushman & Wakefield who acted for vendors M&G, said: “M&G is delighted to have sold Ashdown House to Crawley Borough Council and having successfully implemented its asset management plan, felt this was the most appropriate time to sell. The interest received supported this strategy and shows that the market for office properties in the £5-£10 million range remains strong.”