A major retail and office block which has been on the market for £7.2 million could be bought by St Albans City and District Council.

The council plans to buy Lockey House, in the city centre, which currently has Barclays Bank and Virgin Money among its tenants.

The council’s cabinet committee approved moves to purchase the freehold of the property at its meeting on Tuesday.

This is subject to the completion of full legal and building checks as well as a valuation being completed by an independent property surveyor.

The council has already made a significant offer which has secured its position as the preferred bidder.

A meeting of the full council will have to approve any deal as well as an increase to the council’s capital budget.

Lockey House is three storeys high, contains almost 17,000 square feet of space and was built in the 1960s.

It is next to the council’s main offices, and is also beside a regeneration site known as the City Centre Opportunity Site (CCOS).

CCOS, which included a number of rundown public buildings, is being developed by the Council in stages.

Building work is underway at one section which is known as CCOS South and was formerly the site of a police station and NHS clinic. It is being transformed into adjacent blocks of flats and commercial space.

The purchase of Lockey House will enable the council both to manage the whole CCOS site more effectively and to shape the economic mix of uses in this part of the city for shoppers, businesses and residents while also providing future redevelopment options.

It is also intended to create new annual revenue for the council as the rental income should be more than the repayments for the 50-year loan that will finance the purchase.

Councillor Robert Donald, responsible for commercial, development and wellbeing, said: "This is a unique opportunity to acquire one of the biggest and most prominent commercial buildings on our City Centre high street which will enable the Council to protect and support the city’s economic life in the future.

"It is an opportunity we believe we should not miss and will require robust leadership and a clear vision in these hard times to achieve."