Published: 00:04, 04 November 2016
Sandwich Town Council will seek to secure a loan to buy the Drill Hall on the Quay if it receives backing from the public.
The building, formerly used by Sandwich Army Cadets, is advertised as a redevelopment opportunity.
The guide price is £250,000 and sealed bids can be submitted up until Tuesday, November 15.
The town council has previously shown interest in acquiring the freehold and is now holding a survey to assess public opinion before it goes ahead with a loan application.
Sandwich town clerk Laura Fidler said: “Councillors believe that the Drill Hall should stay in public ownership and there are all sorts of ideas coming forward as to what could be done with it – temporary art space for hire, plays, a base for community groups, concerts, arts and crafts and more.
We really do need people to express their views as to whether we should go ahead with this as we are spending public money. We hope the public view of this reflects that of councillors.” - Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme
“The Drill Hall is in such a prominent position and is an important part of the Quay. If we can add to the community assets in that area it would be great.”
A 100% loan is required and the council would need to apply to the Department for Communities and Local Government for permission to borrow money and then secure the funds from the Public Works Loans Board, which offers good rates on long-term loans for councils.
Miss Fidler said: “The town council is confident that the precept (the money paid by the council taxpayer each year to fund the functions of the council) will not need to be increased to repay this loan – a good business plan should allow the property to pay for itself.”
The survey will close at 9am on Tuesday, allowing for the paperwork to be completed. Miss Fidler said: “Time is tight. Sandwich Town Council would usually try to arrange a public meeting to discuss such a proposal, hopefully a well publicised survey will be enough to gauge public opinion.”
Councillors and an architect viewed the building last week and excitement is growing.
Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme said: “All of us councillors are very excited by the whole thing.
“If we do get it, it’s going to be a great asset for the community.
“We really do need people to express their views as to whether we should go ahead with this as we are spending public money.
“We hope the public view of this reflects that of councillors.”
The building is two storeys and measures approximately 5,436 sq ft. It underwent extensive refurbishment works in 2015.
The Fisher Gate, dating from 1384, is Grade I listed and adjoins the property directly to the east. The wall to the west of the property is Grade II listed. The Drill Hall itself is not listed.
In February the town council was interested in purchasing the freehold and it was considered the building would be a better home for the recently discovered Magna Carta & Charter of the Forest.
But more footfall will be needed before a decision is made about transferring the Guildhall Museum to the Drill Hall in future years.
Share you opinion by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2GHLWKV
Responses by email, phone and representations in person at the Guildhall will also be accepted.
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