Town could use 'asset of community value' law to try and win back Empress swimming pool, Chatteris, even it is finds a buyer at London auction tomorrow

PUBLISHED: 12:05 20 May 2019

Empress swimming pool Chatteris has, to the surprise of trustees, been put on the market. Picture; AGENTS

Empress swimming pool Chatteris has, to the surprise of trustees, been put on the market. Picture; AGENTS

Archant

Potential buyers of the Empress swimming pool, Chatteris, could face opposition to re-develop it if a bid to get it listed as an asset of community value is successful.

Empress swimming pool Chatteris has, to the surprise of trustees, been put on the market.. Picture; AGENTSEmpress swimming pool Chatteris has, to the surprise of trustees, been put on the market.. Picture; AGENTS

Although the initiative - announced today - may not halt the auction of the pool in London tomorrow, it could mean a buyer may have to wait at least six months to give the town an opportunity to buy it back.

If Fenland Council accepts the nomination to secure the pool as an asset of community value (ACV) it would mean townsfolk being granted up to six months to raise the funds needed.

Lawrence Weetman of Chatteris said: "I've submitted an asset of community value nomination for the pool to Fenland District Council.

"I am hopeful that it will be approved, given the pool's history in terms of community use, and the number of community groups (including the Kingfishers Swimming Club, both Glebelands and Kingsfield primary schools, and various swimming teachers) that use it.

"Over 85 people have so far expressed support - well above the 21 required to initiate the nomination process."

He added: "I don't expect it to have much bearing on this week's auction, but the ACV (if granted) would make it harder for a buyer to sell it, demolish it or change its use."

The auction house selling the pool dropped the guide price to £250,000 for the Empress when it goes under the hammer on Tuesday.

The news comes a month after trustees of the charity that run the pool were given the shock news that the landlords wanted to sell it and, through their agents, quoted a guide price of £500,000.

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Days after they heard of the news one of the trustees received notification from the landlord's agents that the pool could be expected to sell for £400,000 and did they want to buy it. Unfortunately the letter was never seen as the trustee was away and has still not seen the offer.

The letter outlining the offer - that also included the suggestion that the trustees could launch a just giving page to - was copied into this newspaper.

It also included the proposal that the agents would help with the launch of such an appeal but only if the trustees agreed.

Barnard Marcus - not the same agents who contacted the trustees - has the Empress listed for auction in London on Tuesday at The Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden.

Their sales particulars note that it is "let to N W Angell, G Brinton and D Frost (trustees of Empress Swimming Pool Trust) which has charitable status (charity no. 803707).

"The lease is for a term of 15 years from 1st January 2001 and was originally let at £4,500 per annum with the current rent being £6,000 per annum effective following the rent review in January 2007.

"The tenants are currently holding on this lease and have a rolling option to terminate the lease giving not less than 6 months' notice in writing expiring on any anniversary day of the term."

Barnard Marcus says any buyer "may wish to consider serving requisite notices under the Landlord and Tenant Act to terminate the lease for the purposes of redevelopment or indeed negotiate new terms with the charity.

"Given the significant built area and position of this property, it is considered that the space has significant redevelopment potential subject to the necessary consents and purchasers are deemed to rely on their own enquiries in this respect."

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