To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the long-term (a) scientific and (b) academic effect of seeking to charge a commercial rent to non-commercial occupants of properties owned by his Department, with specific reference to the learned societies at Burlington House.
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what discussions he has had with representatives of the (a) Society of Antiquaries,(b) Royal Astronomical Society, (c) Geological Society, (d) Linnean Society and (e) Ministers and officials in other Government departments on the future of the aforementioned learned societies at Burlington House.
Five Learned Societies are tenants of New Burlington House, owned by the Department. Following a High Court settlement, all parties agreed in 2005 that rent would increase to market levels over a period of 80 years. The Department clarified that the referenced rent is limited to reflect cultural and educational purposes, rather than commercial office rent. A market rental valuation was agreed between the Department and the Learned Societies; mostly recently in 2019. The Learned Societies currently pay around 30% of this agreed market rent and will not pay full market rent until 2085.
The Department is sympathetic to the Societies’ position and is exploring whether there is a solution that can deliver value for taxpayers and help the Learned Societies to remain at New Burlington House, and an assessment of value will be made as part of an agreement. The Department has been discussing options with the Learned Societies and DCMS given their responsibility for policy in regards to culture, museums and heritage.