Historic Market Harborough building up for sale

Settling Rooms in Market Harborough offices of the volunteer group. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001238-9).
Settling Rooms in Market Harborough offices of the volunteer group. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001238-9).

The Settling Rooms, the unique Grade II listed building near the centre of Market Harborough, is to be put up for sale by current owners Harborough District Council.

The council says the building’s potential sale or lease should result in a better use of the site, and valuable income for the council.

The move was agreed at a full council meeting this week.

Cllr Phil King, Harborough District Council’s portfolio holder for finance and commercialisation, said: “This is a difficult decision but nonetheless, when you consider the long-term maintenance and repair needs, The Settling Rooms is not maximising its potential return for the council or the taxpayer.

“We need to decide on the best option, in challenging economic times, which could also provide an exciting opportunity for the future of the building.”

For the Liberal Democrats, Cllr Dr Sarah Hill said she was concerned about the existing tenants at The Settling Rooms - Voluntary Action South Leicestershire (VASL) and Shopmobility.

“Both offer important services to the community - where will they go?” she asked.

VASL’s senior manager Maureen O’Malley said: “We are understandably a little concerned and hope we can find suitable accommodation to serve our large client and volunteer base.”

VASL has 200 local volunteers who help people ranging from young carers to the isolated elderly.

But Ms O’Malley added: “VASL has a very good working relationship with the District Council, who support the valuable work we carry out.”

The council promised to “work closely” with the two organisations regarding their future.

In an official press release, the council added the potential sale was in line with its legal requirements to obtain the maximum return from its assets for taxpayers.

The distinctive building with clock tower, dated 1902, was once the hub of the town’s livestock market, and the place where farmers would “settle up” bills after buying stock like cattle and sheep.

The Livestock Market moved out of town in the early 1990s, but the building was preserved and is now an historic island surrounded by car parking, close to Sainsbury’s.