The Royal Mail lease with WTC was due for renewal in January 2020. In June 2019 the Town Clerk engaged an agent to commence negotiations with the Royal Mail for a new lease. Solicitors acting for the Royal Mail confirmed their refusal to engage in negotiations. We were advised by the agent that the Royal Mail were paying much lower rent than the market expectation. The use of the space by the Royal Mail had also changed considerably over the years. For example, the increased number of diesel vans using the yard.
This situation led WTC to consider the options available and seek legal advice. One of the options was to redevelop the premises as it was in major need of redevelopment. Full council voted in favour of this in October 2019 at a closed meeting due to business sensitivities.
The building will be redeveloped for the following reasons:
WTC’s plans for the premises will be shared with the town soon. We are currently engaging an architect.
It should be noted that when the solicitors for the Royal Mail did engage with WTC about terms of a new lease, this wasn’t until February 2021 and the offer of rent made to WTC was less than that currently paid. In fact, the rent offered would not be sufficient to rent a flat in the town. The first floor will also be redeveloped and available to rent. Following advice from a commercial letting agent the expected rent for the first floor will be double than that offered in February 2021 by the Royal Mail.
By February 2021, the Council had decided that the premises were already in need of a major refurbishment and the lease should not be renewed as it was not in the town’s interests, including its’ financial interests. We have a duty to the public to achieve the best value from our assets and to protect public funds. The Royal Mail requested an extension until February 2022 to vacate and find a new premises, which we have granted.
This decision taken by WTC was based on sound legal and business advice. It is not for WTC to consider a new location for the sorting office.