Plymouth City Council has put its civic centre up for sale due to the prohibitive costs involved in its restoration and maintenance.
The 15-storey paradigm of 1960s architecture was listed in 2007, but is, according to the council, "seriously corroded" and in need of major structural work. The council had attempted to have it demolished three years ago, but a campaign by the Twentieth Century Society thwarted those plans by managing to get it grade II listed status.
The council can now only afford to carry out urgent repair work, including erecting a canopy over the entrance and a covered walkway to protect people from falling masonry.
The sale was announced amid a growing debate about how to conserve crumbling heritage buildings during the squeeze on public finances. Cabinet member for finance and property, Ian Bowyer, said they had spent around £650,000 on basic repairs over the past two years, adding, "In the current financial environment, we would rather see this money spent on front line services."
A feasibility report by Avanti Architects concluded that the building could be adapted for a number of new uses including residential or hotel. Amid fears that the council will not be able to sell the 'white elephant', there are provisions that could enable the mothballing of the building until the commercial property market fully picks up again.