Expressions of interest are being invited for a community take over of The Look Out building in Broadstairs.
The harbour property, affectionately known as Old Wonky, was registered as an asset of community value in July 2018 after a Community Right to Bid application was made on the property.
Thanet council agreed to dispose of the property in June 2018. At that time the authority said the freehold would likely be transferred to Broadstairs and Harbour seafront group.
The harbour group carried out a considerable amount of maintenance work on the Look Out.
The report said: “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.”
The community asset listing means the council is obliged to give the community the opportunity of submitting a bid to buy the property.
An asset disposal notice for the site is valid from today (August 9) with expressions of interest invited by deadline date September 20.
The notice states the Look Out will be sold at the full market value. However, there is a 6 week Moratorium period where an eligible community group can request to be treated as a potential bidder which would mean a postponement of the sell-off on the open market.
The community group would have six months to raise money and complete the sale.
Independent district councillor for Viking Ward Ruth Bailey said: “The notice, published today by TDC, has confused me as I was under the impression that the Broadstairs Harbour and Seafront Group were virtually promised the transfer of the Old Look Out, perhaps for a nominal sum.
“The group, which is composed of local volunteers, should surely not have to pay the full market value for this building which they have been lovingly maintaining for the last few years. In my mind a community asset transfer should not be about achieving full market value but more about making sure that a building of this importance is preserved by a community that really cares about it.
“I understand that TDC can no longer afford to keep and maintain this building and I realise that they would want to make some capital return on the disposal but, surely, this should reflect the work this group have been doing, plus the ongoing work needed, to keep the building in good shape.
“‘Old Wonky’ remains a much loved and iconic building epitomising the seafaring history of Broadstairs. It is a building that both locals and visitors enjoy visiting and photographing. If it wasn’t cared for by this group, then it would go to rack and ruin so I hope that a reasonable and realistic mutual solution can be found.”
Written requests must be sent to The Disposals Surveyor, Thanet District Council, Cecil Square Offices, Margate, CT9 1XZ or email email@example.com
Totally agree Ruth. TDC should gift the building, for a nominal sum, to the Harbour and Seafront group for community use.
Quite wrong to sell this building , should go for the community it’s use via harbour and seafront group free actually with all the work they have done to repair over the last years