NORTH Ayrshire Council’s leader insists buying the crumbling King’s Arms building for housing was a great deal for taxpayers.

The Kings Arms building was bought for £130,000 this year, funded from the Housing Revenue Account, plus VAT of £26,000.

Council chiefs announced the purchase back in May after the Times exclusively revealed the plans in January.

Council Leader Joe Cullinane said the success story could be copied across other areas after Cllr Robert Barr asked if he thought it was good value for the taxpayers during the first full council meeting since COVID-19.

Cllr Cullinane said: “I do believe it represents value for money and also provides a social return, this is a large building situated in the heart of one of our town centres that has lain empty for years and over time its condition has deteriorated significantly.

“It wasn’t attracting any interest from prospective buyers therefore without council intervention it would have continued to lay empty. The owner in this occasion was willing to sell to the council and has in fact sold the building below the calculated market value.

“Under the SHIP [Strategic Housing Investment Plan] we can purchase then develop the property into town centre housing which will assist with regeneration of the town.

“It also means it will attract a Scottish Government grant while the rest of the funding will come from the affordable housing account, meaning there has been no contribution from the council’s general fund towards this project.”

“The story of privately owned buildings being left to deteriorate is repeated across most of our towns, the purchase of the King’s with the intention of converting the building into council housing is a success story which represents a model which can be replicated across other areas.”