October 20 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Friday, March 14, 2014
A private developer has snapped up the former magistrates’ court in Wisbech ahead of its planned sale at an auction later this month.
Allsop auctioneers confirmed today the building- with a guide price of between £100-£150,000- had been sold privately.
News of the surprise sale had been confirmed by, of all people, the leader of the House of Commons, MP Andrew Lansley.
In a brief exchange with NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay, Mr Lansley made the surprise announcement yesterday that he expected the sale “will be completed imminently”.
Mr Barclay had called for a statement from Mr Lansley after complaining that “one taxpayer funder body, the Ministry of Justice, is selling it at a reduced rate because a second taxpayer-funded body, Cambridgeshire police, is refusing to vacate it as a sitting tenant”.
The MP claimed this was preventing “a third taxpayer-funded body, the local authority, from redeveloping the site and therefore not offering the taxpayer value for money”.
Mr Lansley said he was aware of the Ministry of Justice trying to negotiate an earlier sale with Fenland District Council who “then withdrew its offer. The Ministry of Justice decided that sale at auction was the best option but the auction did not proceed because an offer was received from a local developer at what it considered to be an acceptable market price.”
The leader of the Commons added: “It is likely that the sale will be completed imminently but I have asked the Ministry of Justice whether the under secretary of state for justice (Shalish Vara) who is responsible for courts and legal aid could discuss the issue with you as a matter of urgency in order to establish the position.”
The building would have gone up for auction on March 27: Allsop’s had advertised it as nearly 5,000 square feet internal area with potential for change of use or redevelopment.
Cambs Police will stay, however, as neighbours and on a lengthy lease at a peppercorn rent.