Take advantage of property crash, charities are advised

The property crash should be regarded as an opportunity to acquire property assets in local communities, according to the Government's local authority guru.

Barry Quirk, chief executive of Lewisham Council and adviser to the Communities and Local Government department, told the recent Development Trusts Association conference that charities faced far less competition for land from private companies and developers than in previous years.

Local authorities could be more easily persuaded to sell to the third sector, he said, and councils could end up putting more properties on the market as they struggled to hit fixed targets for capital receipts.

"There's a declining attraction to capital receipts at the moment," he said. "Councils cannot make as much money selling to the private sector and there is declining competition for public assets."

Councils were more open to the idea of 'civic gains' because of the depressed market, he said.

Quirk recommended that charities consider buying council assets at low points in the market if they are buying land for long-term use. "For charities, affordability has increased as land value has dropped," he said. "While you shouldn't be racing headlong into a falling market, it is true that opportunities arise when uncertainty increases."

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