The demolition of Crown House, Kidderminster has been put on hold for an indeterminate period. The tenant of the building, Telereal Trillium, has pulled out of a demolition deal at short notice.

In September 2017, the district council announced that a deal had been agreed in principle with the tenant, Telereal Trillium. It would have seen Telereal fund the demolition of the building, in exchange for which the council would accept a surrender of the lease. This would have allowed Telereal to walk away from the site and enabled the council to progress redevelopment. However, Telereal has now pulled out of the deal citing financial reasons.

Earlier in the year Telereal Trillium successfully applied to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to have Crown House taken off the ratings list. This means they no longer have to pay any business rates on the building. The council has submitted counter-proposals to the VOA to ask for the building to be brought back onto the list. It believes the building is economically viable for the tenants to use, whether for offices or another commercial purpose.

At the moment, Telereal’s only regular financial outgoing on the building is the rent it pays to Wyre Forest District Council. . Telereal has decided not to fund the demolition, preferring to retain the empty building.

Councillor Marcus Hart, Leader of Wyre Forest District Council said:

“I’m very angry and frustrated at what Telereal Trillium has done. Our officers have spent the last 12 months negotiating very complex arrangements in good faith with Telereal to reach a position where the council would accept the surrender of the lease and they would undertake the demolition of the building. All the legal paperwork was in place and in fact the council had signed it all off but, when it came to Telereal signing, they pulled out.”

He went on to say:

“I’m bitterly disappointed that Telereal Trillium has decided they would rather let the building lie vacant for the remainder of the period of the lease. It means for the residents of the district and visitors to the town that Crown House will remain an ugly eyesore that continues to undermine all the other improvements going on in the town. Telereal aren’t present in the town and this decision just reinforces the fact that they don’t really care at all what happens to Kidderminster. I imagine we aren’t the only town where this is the case.”

Councillor Nathan Desmond, Cabinet Member for Resources said:

“This is a real blow for the town, but residents can be sure that we will be doing all that we can to persuade the VOA to get the building back on the rating list again. We will also be making sure Telereal carry out all their obligations as tenant to maintain the building. The council made a commitment that the demolition of Crown House should not cost the Wyre Forest Council taxpayer a penny and that remains our position. The rent the council receives, even for an empty property, is important. We simply cannot allow a multinational property company like Telereal Trillium to fail to keep the building well maintained, surrender the lease and leave the council to foot the bill for demolishing the building.”

Councillor Helen Dyke, Member Champion for Place said:

“After all the work that the council is putting in to improve the look and feel of the town it is a great shame that this deal has fallen through. We hoped that this major company would work with us to improve the appearance of the town and support its retailers.”