Vacant Old Town Hall could be sold

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Hastings council leaders are set to decide on whether to put the freehold of a listed Old Town building out for sale.

On Monday (October 7), Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet is to consider proposals to put the council-owned Old Town Hall building in High Street on to the market.

According to council papers, the Grade II listed building has been vacant since October 2018 after its last tenant – an indoor children’s play area – closed shop.

While attempts have been made to find a new tenant to take over the lease – as well as at a lower rent than originally advertised – the council says it has been unsuccessful in finding one.

Meanwhile, the council says, keeping the building empty is incurring significant costs, both for day-to-day maintenance and longer term works.

In a report to be considered by cabinet members, council officers said: “As outlined above, there has been a lack of interest in renting the property and there are potentially significant costs to be incurred if we continue to hold the building. 

“Disposing of the freehold of the building would produce a capital receipt, eliminate holding costs and also provide the opportunity to find a more useful purpose for an important building in the High Street.”

According to the council, the building needs costly major works to carry on as a rental property in the long term, including redecorations worth around £30,000 and energy efficiency improvements worth around £16,000. 

The council says there have also been several incidences of lead theft from the building’s roof and while there is planning permission to replace it with zinc, the cost to do so is likely to come to around £32,000.

Selling the building, however, may also prove challenging as the building is a registered Asset of Community Value (ACV).

As an ACV, any sale is open to public challenge which could lead to a six-month pause  to allow community members to raise funding for a bid.

If approved for sale by cabinet members, the building will be placed on the council’s disposal register in the coming weeks.