Queens Arcade was sold at auction this morning for £461,000 – £136,000 above the guide price.
It’s just three weeks since news broke that the arcade was for sale as the charity that owned it had lost almost £200,000 in just five years.
Figures available on the Charity Commission website show that in 2019 the Went Tree Trust lost a whopping £66,000 in a year when its income was just £61,000.
The Arcade was auctioned off this morning by Clive Emson Auctioneers (https://www.proplist.com/listing/clive-emson-auctioneers-property-auctions/queens-arcade).
Yesterday Councillor Judy Rogers said she had been in touch with the trustees of the charity to ask if the sale could be postponed but was told it could not. The dire state of the Trust’s finances suggests the charity may have simply run out of cash and needs to dispose of its assets quickly.
There are no published figures for the year that ended in January 2021 but that is expected to show another significant loss and that loss may have been the last straw for the charity and what precipitated tomorrow’s sale.
The auction brochure, which suggested a guide price of £325,000 for the sizeable town centre property saying: “A rare opportunity to acquire this town centre shopping arcade comprising a mix of single and double units.
“Known as Queens Arcade the individual units are accessed via glass covered walkway from both Queens Road and York Gardens.
“Let to provide a good income, Queen’s Arcade offers an eclectic array of retailers including a confectioner, butcher, fishmonger and hairdresser. With one vacant unit the arcade is considered ideal for continued investment.
“Queen’s Road is located at the heart of Hastings town centre offering easy access to Hastings seafront, mainline railway station and Priory Meadows shopping centre.”
Councillor Rogers said today: “I have been aware for some years that there have been issues with the Went Tree Trust and concerns that some of the repairs and maintenance to the arcade and the building above have not been carried out.
“Three or four years ago I contacted the Trust and Heringtons who administer the trust to try and get the works done with little or no response. The businesses made contact with me a few days after they had received a communication from the trustees to say that the arcade was to be put up for sale by auction on March 24th. This was around three weeks ago so there was no real time to take actions… I have asked (council) officers to start the process of registering the arcade as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) which is underway but clearly cannot be completed before the auction.
“I am also trying to find out how we can get the arcade listed which it currently is not.
“I have also written to the trustees to ask them to defer the sale for six months in order to allow the businesses and local people to try to find a way to buy the arcade, I’ve had a response which indicates that they do not have the funds left in the trust to support the running of the arcade so they cannot stop the sale.
“My hope is that if the arcade is sold tomorrow that it will be to a person or company who are better equipped to ensure the future of the arcade and the business tenants. I will continue to work to make sure the arcade is supported, maintained and there is a future for the building and the businesses.”
The Charity Commissions lists Catherine Hirst (appointed in September 2019); Sally Kinsey (appointed in August 2015) and Marion Purdey (appointed in April 2019) as trustees of the charity.
There’s no word yet on who the new owners are.