22 council-owned workshops in St Peter’s have been sold at auction

The Dane Valley workshops have been sold despite a campaign by small businesses at the site

The Dane Valley Enterprise Units in St Peter’s have been sold at auction for £415,000.

The workshops went under the hammer yesterday (March 20) and were bought by a private buyer.

It follows a campaign by small businesses at the site who said they wanted to buy the 22 workshops between them.

The sale was part of Thanet council’s asset disposal scheme aimed at saving £100,000 by April..

The units were originally intended for use for start-up businesses. The council says that they are now no longer financially viable for the council to retain ownership.

Council asset disposal

TDC also raised £549,000 at an auction last month with the sale of 10 Market Street, Margate; Land at Duke Street, Margate and Newgate Gap store, Margate .

There will be further sales of council-owned assets over the next two years and the final decision to sell any type of property will be subject to cabinet approval.

Cllr Chris Wells, leader of Thanet District Council, said: “TDC owns around 750 assets in the form of land and buildings throughout the district. This needs significant management and budgetary commitment which needs to be balanced against the benefits they provide to the community.”

“Monies raised through the sale of council-owned asset sales will help fund important capital projects. This is part of the council’s medium-term financial strategy, 2016-2020.”
“In selecting an open auction to sell the Dane Valley units we were able to meet our legal obligation to achieve the best possible price, but without removing or altering the status and rights of the traders.

“Council officers will now be writing to the traders on site to confirm the change in ownership. I would like to emphasise that a change of landlord does not affect their position in terms of their legal status.”

The council carried out a review of the benefits of continued ownership of assets across the district but say this demonstrated that some types of property or land would be suitable for sale into private ownership, while others would be suitable for the council to let as a corporate landlord.

A TDC spokesman said: “When disposing of publicly-owned assets the council is required by law to achieve the best price reasonably obtainable. A public auction is an appropriate way to achieve this from those who are competing to purchase the asset and this method of disposal allows everyone to have the opportunity to bid.”

‘Out of business’

Small businesses at the site had  formed a limited company and made an offer for the site. They said the sale would put them out of businesss.

They were being backed by ward councillor Jenny Matterface and colleague Karen Constantine.

Cllr Matterface said: “This is disappointing news for the tenants as some of them have been told here for several years and now face an uncertain future. Until more is known about the buyer we cannot say what will happen to their tenancies, terms and conditions.”

The campaign group has been asked for comment.