NEWPORT council is set to adopt a new asset management plan which will recognise a need to reduce its property portfolio.

After staff costs, owning and operating property assets is the largest single expense faced by the city council.

Its vast portfolio of premises has an asset value of some £304.5million, with 169 operational buildings.

A new strategic asset management plan could be adopted by the council next week, setting out how it will manage its properties until 2025.

The management plan says reducing the property portfolio will be “service-led”, with work already under way to consider the issue.

“While there will be targeted investment, the overall outcome of the review will be a reduction in the size of the portfolio,” the plan says.

The plan says the council “recognises it does not require all the current portfolio.”

There is currently a maintenance backlog over the whole estate of around £100million.

Resources are not available to address the full backlog, but steps are being taken to ensure all buildings are at least safe, secure and comply with legal requirements, the plan says.

The condition of buildings is said to be a “major issue” for the schools estate, where many have reached the end of their useful life.

Due to limited funding, plans are in place to ensure investment is effectively targeted.

This includes using the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Education funding to manage condition issues.

A review aimed at making space available for new uses at the city’s Civic Centre has also begun.

New uses may include bringing additional council staff to the centre and letting office space to public sector partners, the plan says.

Developing new community hubs, with the first being trialled in Ringland, could also reduce maintenance costs.

The hubs would be used to offer a range of services from one location, with initial plans for four across the city.

In an introduction to the new plan, Cllr Mark Whitcutt, deputy leader and cabinet member for assets and member development, said it is ‘essential’ the property portfolio is limited to the level necessary for delivery of services.

“Every opportunity must be taken to operate efficiently and to reduce costs,” he says.

“Every pound saved on managing assets is a pound available to invest in services.”

A decision on approving the plan as a formal policy of the council is due to be made by Cllr Whitcutt as a cabinet member decision next Tuesday, February 19.