Half a dozen almshouses built for poor people in Milton Keynes should be renovated at a cost of £1m plus, councillors decide

Once refurbished, some of the houses will be rented out privately
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Historic Great Linford almshouses needing £1.3m worth of renovations are to be given a new lease of life.

MK Council currently leases the six small houses and central schoolhouse building to the Milton Keynes Arts Centre (MKAC), which has previously used them as studios and bases for workshops.

The council receives no income from the arts centre but is still responsible for continuous maintenance of the Grade II* listed properties, which are of high historical significance with Historic England

Labour ward councillor Hannah Minns outside the almshousesLabour ward councillor Hannah Minns outside the almshouses
Labour ward councillor Hannah Minns outside the almshouses

Built in the grounds of Great Linford Manor in the 1700s, the homes were designed to provide shelter and education for poverty-stricken people in the parish.

But over the years they have fallen into disrepair and now have structural problems. Maintaining them is costly, and an initial survey has suggested that the necessary structural renovation will top £1.3m, say council officers

This week Councillor Rob Middleton, the Labour Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for resources, took the decision to shed the financial burden - by giving the almshouses to Milton Keynes Parks Trust on a 999-year lease.

This means the council will no longer be liable for the maintenance. But it also means they must pay the Parks Trust a "reverse premium" of £300,000.

The almshouses are in Great Linford Manor ParkThe almshouses are in Great Linford Manor Park
The almshouses are in Great Linford Manor Park

This comes on top of £280,000 of capital funding already agreed by the council for "essential structural works" required to make the almshouses safe.

Cllr Middleton said: “The Parks Trust is currently regenerating Linford Manor Park and has a true interest in highlighting its historic significance. By creating a long 999-year lease, we can ensure that the almshouses are restored and used by generations to come.”

He said the Parks Trust plans to let out the schoolhouse as a residential property and three of the almshouses as commercial office spaces.

Rather than paying the required reverse premium in cash to the Parks Trust, the council has agreed to 'swap' it by giving the trust MK's youth hostel building, which is sited in Bradwell.

The Parks Trust can then refurbish the hostel and let it on a "residential tenancy" to a new tenant, state council documents.