So, as was widely predicted, Lambeth Council haave instructed an estate agent, Lambert Smith Hampton, to sell off the Beaufoy Institute in Black Prince Road, SE11. Selling off assets is obviously something Lambeth are doing in an attempt to raise funds, but it's a real shame they couldn't find a use for it in conjunction with a private partner. In cash-strapped times, the Council would probably maintain that public interest would not best be served by giving the building away for free, but does stripping North Lambeth of its assets serve local residents well in the long-term? It rather depends on whom the Beaufoy is sold to, and to what end.
So, if you want to buy a Grade II listed building for, err, an undisclosed amount, you can use it for any D1 purpose - medical/health service, creche/day nursery, art gallery, educational establishment, museum, library (ha ha!), public hall or place of worship. In 2006, the beaufoy was estimated to need £2 million spent on it to bring it into usable condition. Any purchaser will also need to contribute to the Council's costs and submit a tender by 8th June 2011. It looks as though it would be possible for one buyer to purchase the Annexe Extension and another to buy the Beaufoy building itself.
I'm not sure whether there's a covenant on it that would prevent it from being bought and then requesting a change of use, but if my memory serves me correctly, it has to be used for some form of arts/educational purpose. I wonder if there's a possibility that the extension might be sold first for housing, with the building itself languishing for want of a buyer to inject the necessary capital to turn it into a viable public building. Time will tell.
Excitingly, it is possible to view the building through the Estate Agent. I wonder whether they'll accept enquiries from random members of the public. I've always wanted to look around. Anybody want to join me? ;-)
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