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 3 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

Summer Receptionists

University Of Chichester

PhD fellow within Machine Learning for Personalized Healthcare

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Lecturer in Finance

Maynooth University

Teaching Laboratory Assistant

University Of Bristol
See all jobs

Most Commented

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

Alexander Wedderburn

Former president of the British Psychological Society remembered

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham