London Metropolitan pays £1.3m a year for unused building

University still pays rent and maintenance costs for Ladbroke House and is stuck in lease until 2016

June 26, 2014

Source: Getty

Locked in: London Met’s long-term contract will not expire until August 2016

London Metropolitan University is spending more than a million pounds a year renting and servicing an unused building, and is expected to do so until 2016, Times Higher Education has learned.

The university, which shed more than 200 jobs between 2011-12 and 2012-13, mothballed Ladbroke House in North London in April 2012 but has been paying more than £1.3 million a year in rent and maintenance since.

A Freedom of Information request found that the university has been spending about £200,000 on cleaning, security, other services and utilities, and £1,145,000 in rent per year.

The university has rented the five-storey building since 1991 but its long-term contract will expire only in August 2016.

If it cannot find a way to end the lease earlier than this, the university will have spent close to £6 million on Ladbroke House while empty by the time the contract ends.

Cliff Snaith, secretary of London Met’s University and College Union branch, said he was “surprised” that the university had not received “absolute assurance” that it could find a replacement tenant before moving out of the building.

“We were told that the property would be rented out fairly soon after it was vacated” but this had not happened, he said. “We’re stuck into this contract and there’s no clause that gets us out early.” He added that the decision to move out of Ladbroke House was not “wise” because “it was actually one of the best sites for teaching delivery”.

A spokesman for London Met said that the mothballing of Ladbroke House “yields a six-figure saving every year” and that “negotiations for an early surrender of the lease are continuing”.

“The institution has a legal responsibility to maintain the site until the 25-year lease expires in 2016,” he added. “This is a perfectly normal arrangement, commonplace in commercial rentals.”

The university managed to make a surplus of £2.6 million in 2012-13 despite losing its licence to sponsor international students for several months, which led to a £17.1 million fall in income from tuition fees. It did so by making redundancies, selling off buildings and receiving help from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

But the accounts also warned of the need for sizeable further savings, and in November 2013 London Met was presented with warnings from accountancy firm PwC that it needed to take action “very soon” to arrest a “pattern of decline” or it would be “extremely vulnerable within two years”.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

man with frozen beard, Lake Louise, Canada

Australia also makes gains in list of most attractive English-speaking nations as US slips