Row rages over bid to cash in on houses

Property in Orchard Street is one of two houses being sold in Falkirk town centre

Property in Orchard Street is one of two houses being sold in Falkirk town centre

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Plans to sell off prime location council properties have come under fire.

Two houses in the heart of Falkirk town centre will go on the open market after they were deemed surplus to requirements.

But the SNP group wanted them retained and refurbished before being let for Falkirk Council tenants.

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of the Nationalists group, said: “This comes at a time when we are in desperate need of larger properties. Surely, we should be renovating these and then letting them to those who are on our waiting list.”

However, members of the policy and resources committee heard that neither property met the criteria of a recent proposed initiative to buy back former council homes when they come on the market.

The two houses involved are at 4 Orchard Street and 7 Booth Place.

A report to the committee revealed it would cost £85,000 to renovate the two-storey detached sandstone villa in Orchard Street.

It has four rooms, kitchen and toilet on the ground floor and a further four rooms on the upper floor. As well as a rear garden, it has off-road parking to the front.

Recently, a property in the street was on the market for over £200,000.

Previously used by education’s psychological services, it was most recently occupied by Barnardos on behalf of social work services.

However, the report reveals: “Due to concerns of the internal condition of the property, particularly the outdated electrical wiring, it was subsequently vacated. The property is in a poor state of repair throughout.”

Councillors heard the tenant of 7 Booth Place, acquired by the former local authority in 1971, had failed to allow access to carry out repairs over the years and it was now in a “very poor condition”. Following their death last year, it was now lying empty.

Upgrading work on the one and a half storey house was put in the region of £60,000.

Stuart Ritchie, director of neighbourhood services, told councillors the proposal to buy back former council homes when they come on the open market clearly stated these should be in areas where there was already council housing and this wasn’t the case with either of these.

Mrs Meiklejohn’s amendment to do up the properties and put them back into the housing stock was defeated.

Members also agreed to sell off a strip of land at the rear of the Booth Place property to the owner of Aromas Coffee Shop in Booth Place to allow access.