Resident-led Saffron Walden Town Council buys former NatWest building

Under R4U leadership, Saffron Walden Town Council has just completed the purchase of the former NatWest Bank building adjoining the Town Hall and will be bringing it into use again.

Richard Porch (R4U) Richard Porch (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr Richard Porch, the SWTC councillor leading the project team, said “It’s fantastic news that Saffron Walden Town Council has been able to complete the purchase of the former NatWest building, and at what the Council believes is a very favourable price of £550,000. For this investment, the Council will have new permanent offices connected to the Town Hall, and a new income stream from renting out several floors for retail or similar and office use.”

Cllr Porch continued “The Council has been looking for new premises since it moved out of Emson Close in 2020. This building is perfect. The intention is to use the first floor for the Council offices, return the ground floor and basement back for retail or similar use, and in due course to convert the second floor to either commercial or residential use. The Council is starting work immediately on implementing its plans to get the building back into use as soon as practicable.”

The important building on the market square directly adjoins the Town Hall, to its left

Paul Gadd (R4U) Paul Gadd (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr Paul Gadd, leader of Saffron Walden Town Council, said “Since R4U has been in control of the SWTC we’ve rebuilt the Council’s finances. As a result the Council now has significant cash reserves for future maintenance and other long term liabilities. Because these are not needed in the medium term, they can be used to fund the purchase of the building outright. That means that the Council won’t incur any borrowing costs, and owning and renting out the property will provide a good rate of return.”

Cllr Gadd continued “Council staff have been temporarily working from the Town Hall Committee Room and Council Chamber for much of the last 2 years. These rooms are now being returned to community and other uses.  For example, since Barclays closed their Market Square building at the end of August, they have rented the committee room for 2 days a week to continue to provide banking services to residents. The purchase of the former NatWest building should be a very successful investment for the Council, whilst at the same time providing much needed office and retail space and importantly breathing new life into a building which has sadly stood empty for a number of years.”

About Residents for Uttlesford