Thanet council proposal to sell East Kent Mencap’s base, Foresters Hall, in Ramsgate

Foresters Hall

Thanet council aims to sell the Foresters Hall in Ramsgate.

The property, which is used by charity East Kent Mencap, is Grade II listed and designated an Asset of Community Value.

The authority, which owns the building, has earmarked it for sale as part of its asset disposal programme.

The plan is to sell it at market value with first refusal given to the Trustees of East Kent Mencap. However, the offer will be subject to the sale completing within nine months of the date of the Cabinet decision. After that time the council will be free to sale the premises to another organisation at market value.

Disrepair

TDC says the building must be sold as it is falling into disrepair and will need at least £455,145 spent to bring it back to a reasonable condition.

A report to Cabinet members, who will discuss the proposal at a meeting next Thursday (November 16) says: “These works are now overdue and there is no capital funding available to undertake the work.”

The building was subject to four tenancies, all paying market rent. One of the tenants left at the end of September 2017 relocating to the Kent Innovation Centre. Of the remaining three remaining, two are short term agreements – one for temporary storage – and one, East Kent Mencap, has a secure leasehold interest.

Complaints

The report states: “We have informed the tenants of our review of the building and (in response to their complaints about the condition) that we do not have the funds to repair the building. As a result of these discussions one of the short-term tenants is now looking for alternative accommodation and we are serving notice to terminate the storage arrangement.”

The estimated net operating income for financial year ending March 2017 year is £18,430 ex VAT. But the loss of another tenant will reduce this amount to £3,400 ex VAT.

The lack of income is one of the prompts for the sell-off of the building.

East Kent Mencap

The report says: “One of the occupiers, Trustees of East Kent Mencap, has a secure tenancy and the services they provide are of considerable social benefit to the community. Supporting neighbourhoods is a corporate priority and the community benefit provided by Mencap should be retained in the area wherever practicable.

“The Trustees of East Kent Mencap have been informed of the asset review and indicated they would like to purchase the property, at market value, which would provide them with an opportunity to invest in the premises to bring it back in to good repair and retain use of the premises for the benefit of the community.”

The charity

East Kent Mencap provides services including  supporting people with learning difficulties to live within the community and become as independent as possible, helps to develop life skills, provides social groups and activities and helps with carers support.

The group, although affiliated with the national Mencap organisation, is independently financed.

Cabinet members are expected to agree to proceed with the sale of the hall.

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