OTLEY Civic Centre has been put up for sale again just three months after it was sold at auction by Leeds City Council.

The town had been waiting to hear what was planned for the civic centre after the building sold for £600,000 in December – four times more than the guide price.

Owners Leeds City Council had put the Grade II Listed property on the market as part of its efforts to plug a multi-million pound budget deficit for next year.

It was sold via a 24-hour online auction, where the building was listed with a guide price of just £135,000, which ended on December 9. Details of the eventual buyer have never been disclosed.

Once the town’s major community hub and a home to the town council and other groups, including Otley Museum, the civic centre has been closed since 2010.

Debate has raged ever since about what should happen to the property – which is in need of substantial restoration – and there have been attempts to have it reopened as an entertainment hub.

Most recently it looked set to be converted into flats only for that plan to come to nothing.

Local campaigners and councillors who had been waiting to find out more about the new owner and their plans have now expressed amazement that it is up for sale again – this time for a guide price of £1.5 million.

The property is being marketed by Fleming and Co (Estates) Ltd, of Huddersfield. The property is 15,000 sq ft (1,393 sq m) and key features are listed as being close to the town’s retail areas with excellent transport links and near Leeds Bradford Airport.

Otley and Yeadon Liberal Democrat Councillors Sandy Lay, Colin Campbell and Ryk Downes say they are amazed that Otley’s Civic Centre is up for sale again.

“It’s only three months or so since since it was last sold,” said Councillor Lay, “so we are somewhat concerned that it is up for sale again.”

“The asking price seems to have more than doubled to £1.5 million over the last three months,” said Councillor Campbell.

“Residents could quite rightly ask if the price Leeds received for this valued local asset was too low.

“At least it is being sold as a leisure facility,” added Councillor Downes, “so if they can find a buyer it might return to being an asset to the town.”

The property is being sold as a leisure facility. The owners say they may also consider letting the commercial property.

In a full description, the estate agency describes the civic centre as a: “Beautiful period building in Otley town centre close to the main amenities of the town centre.

“Class D2 and Grade II listed, this property would make an ideal place of worship or community centre.

“Rental terms will be £60,000 p/a for the first year on FRI lease terms, £80,000 p/a for the second year and £100,000 p/a for the

third year with a market rent review occurring thereafter.”

Built on Boroughgate’s corner with Garnett Street, Otley Civic Centre’s origins date back to its opening as the Mechanics Institute in 1871.

The building was given to Otley in the 1950s and the minutes of the 1957 meeting which agreed the donation to Otley Urban District Council described it as ‘a gift for the benefit of the town’.

The civic centre passed into the legal possession of Leeds City Council in 1974.

Various attempts to have it reopened, including as an arts and community hub, have been made since its closure in 2010.

Details of the sale of Otley Civic Centre can be viewed online at rightmove.co.uk/commercial-property-for-sale/property-104567090.html or phone the agents, Fleming and Co (Estates) Ltd, Huddersfield, on 03301 332472 or email info@flemingestates.co.uk.