7 Thanet council sites earmarked for ‘asset disposal’

Margate Football Club grounds (Photo by MFC)

Four more Thanet council owned sites are likely to be sold off, with a further three being transferred to community groups or parish councils.

Council Cabinet members are due to discuss the ‘disposal’ of land at Hartsdown: 40 Hawley Square, Margate: Land at Margate Football Club and Zion Place fitness club in Margate.

They will also discuss community transfers of land at Alpha Road Land, in Birchington and Birchington Memorial Ground, as well as The “Old Look Out” in Broadstairs.

The meeting takes place at the council offices on June 14 at 7pm.

Proposed sites

Margate Football Club

Margate FC grounds

It is proposed to sell the freehold for the Margate Football Club grounds to the club.

MFC has two leasehold interests in Hartsdown Park one expired in 2011, rent passing £10,000, and the other expires in 2023 rent passing £100.00 excluding VAT.

The club has security of tenure, meaning  even though the contract has expired the tenants have the right to remain at the site unless the Landlord can prove one of the limited grounds for getting vacant possession.

MFC has invested in a 3G pitch and plans to make further investment. There is planning permission for an 80 bed hotel, fitness club, and other facilities to sustain the club.

MFC will use sports funding to invest in and maintain the club, and part of the funding obligations will ensure the facilities continue to host community sports uses.

In a report to councillors it says: “It is recognised that MFC need a longer interest in the land in order to secure funding to support the development and community facilities. The existing renewal terms would not give the club sufficient term to secure funding. A long leasehold would require Cabinet approval and has been considered but long leases are effectively ground rents, the Landlord retains very little control over the leaseholder.

“Noting that the site is regulated as sports and recreational use through planning and restrictive covenants, the recommended way to support investment in the facilities is to sell the freehold to the club.”

If sold legal conditions would include retaining the sport facilities with ancillary use, including a public right of way through part of the land and inclusion of a clawback agreement to capture any uplift in change of use.

The freehold will be sold at market value.

Land at Hartsdown

The freehold for further land at Hartsdown is also likely to be sold off.

The property includes a number of long leasehold interests, operational stores and a yard. The units are in a reasonable to poor condition and there are many protected rights over the land.

The council is responsible for maintaining the yard, drainage, operational buildings and licenced premises. The estate is aging and now requires reinvestment.

The report says: “A review of the operational buildings shows that the stores used on this estate are now surplus with the contents being cleared and moved to Dane Park Depot. The stores are becoming dilapidated and require substantial investment, they attract a reasonably substantial business rates bill.

“Retention of this estate does not represent value for money and it is recommended this site is sold on the open market through the disposal framework.”

40 Hawley Square, Margate

The freehold for 40 Hawley Square is earmarked to go on the open market after the council moved services from there to Cecil Street.

Zion Place fitness club

Zion Place fitness club, Margate, will be marketed as a freehold interest. The report states: “(The) adjacent site already agreed for disposal, considered that this site to be packaged to sell freehold but with the leasehold interest unaffected.”

Birchington Memorial Ground and land at Alpha Road

Photo Suzanne Brimm

Birchington Memorial Ground and the land at Alpha Road will be transferred to Birchington Parish Council. TDC says restrictive covenants would be placed on the land for continued public use.

The Old Look Out, Broadstairs

‘Old Wonky’ Photo Dean Spinks

The Old Look Out, in Broadstairs, is likely to have the freehold transferred to Broadstairs and Harbour seafront group.

An office at the site was previously on the market but received little interest. The harbour group have carried out a considerable amount of maintenance work on the Lookout.

The report says: “They take great interest in restoring and preserving the property for the benefit of the community. In May 2017 they received recognition for their hard work being awarded the “Mayoress Cup” by the Mayor of Broadstairs.

“Our review of this property concluded that this asset is not producing a good return on the investment portfolio that it now requires substantial investment and it would benefit from the local community management and maintenance.”

On May 18 a Community Right to Bid application was made on the property, which TDC says is likely to be successful.

Read here: Fort Road Hotel in Margate to be sold at auction

2 Comments

  1. Sell sell sell. The council have been starved of money from the government forcing the council to sell off everything they can. Once everything is sold off then what???? Oh I know the council tax will have to be increased higher and higher for less and less service. Mrs May’s Manta of “Brexit means Brexit” should be replaced with “ We grab all and give nothing back”

    • I agree with Ann Long. Though some of these recent sell-offs look reasonable on the surface, they are just the latest example of less and less land and facilities being retained by the people of the area, and subject to democratic votes, and disposed of to people, some of whom may well be well-intentioned, who are not beholden to electors.
      As Ann Long asks “Once everything is sold off, then what?” We are approaching a time when we can proudly claim to be a democracy because we get a vote every few years, but the people we elect will have nothing of importance to decide. Because everything will have been privatised and the private owners don’t have to ask to be elected! Some democracy!

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