AN £8 million office block which has stood empty since West Berkshire Council bought it almost two-and-a-half years ago may soon welcome its first tenants.

On October 15, the council’s Executive is expected to sign off on a deal to lease 8,000 square feet of 4 The Sector, in the Newbury Business Park, to a company which has not been named.

That means the firm would occupy less than 30 per cent of the 28,700 square foot building, but the council says the deal could “attract other prospective tenants”.

The Conservative-run council bought the building for £8 million in April 2018, as part of an ambitious investment programme, but is has stood empty for the last 29 months.

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As part of the deal, the company that sold the building agreed to pay rent, rates, and service charges until April 2020.

But the council now has to cover those costs and pay to prepare the building for the new tenants.

The council says the prospective tenant is “keen to progress urgently” and provide much-needed income.

To help fund public services in the future, West Berkshire Council has invested around £65 million in commercial properties, such as shops, offices and warehouses, and it expects a 2 per cent return each year.

It had planned to invest £100 million, but the ambitious project was halted earlier this year, after the government raised concerns about councils using low-cost loans to invest in property.

The council has invested in properties around the country, from a bank in Eastbourne to a Sainsbury’s store in North Yorkshire.