THE historic Observer building in Cambridge Road was sold last week for an undisclosed sum to a London-based company despite a community group’s efforts to save it.
Built in 1921, the boarded-up property was due to go under the hammer at The Hilton Brighton Metropole on Friday, June 6 for an estimated £150,000 but was sold off prior to the auction despite the White Rock Trust’s (WRT) campaign to buy the building.
Sam Kinloch, senior auction valuer at Clive Emson, told the Observer that he was unable to disclose at this stage which company had brought the premises and how much it was brought for but he did reveal that the firm is in the process of seeking planning permission to develop the site,
He said: The company is seeking planing permission to develop the site for flats and commercial use. It is looking to keep the original structure rather than demolishing it.”
Campaigning to purchase the building so that it could work towards local ownership and a sensitive redevelopment plan, benefiting both residents and businesses, the White Rock Trust had raised £50,000. It had hoped to use that as a cash deposit to take the building out of auction and pay the remaining £200,000 by September.
However, a higher offer had come in and the trust was unable to purchase the property at auction because signing an auction contract would have made the trustees personally liable for the outstanding amount, so without a guarantor it was unable to buy it.
The dilapidated building used to be the site of the former print works and offices for the Hastings Observer and dates back to 1859.
It ceased to be used by the Observer in 1989 and it fell into disrepair.
Emma Attrell, auction valuer, said: “It would be a boost to the town to see new life breathed into this landmark building, with historical planning applications providing for conversion of the premises for up to 59 flats. The owner agreed to a good offer prior to auction.” For more information about WRT visit www.whiterocktrust.org.uk.