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Charity's courthouse bid dismissed

by Hayley Robinson

A charity's bid to buy the former town magistrates’ court has failed.

FACES of Kent, which offers support services to carers of all ages, wanted to transform the building in Park Road, Sittingbourne, into a centre for its clients.

Plans included providing training and function rooms, plus conference and office facilities which would have been available to other organisations to hire.

There would also have been a young carers’ zone where parents could drop their youngsters off while they shopped in the high street.

Added to this would have been a cafe open to the public plus a sensory room, wet room and shower facilities as well as one-to-one counselling rooms, therapy and relaxation rooms, wi-fi computer suite, a quiet room, sensory garden and a bedsit to support young carers.

The charity presently rents offices in Sheerness, where it has been based for the last three and a half years, but it says it needs to find a bigger, permanent and more central location due to the growing number of people it helps.

Chief executive Sandie Hornby received an email on Monday from Jones Lang LaSalle and Harrisons Chartered Surveyors, which are handling the sale on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

It said the bid to buy both the courthouse and the former staff car park off Albany Road had not been accepted.

Mrs Hornby said: “The estate agent has stated they will contact us again should the sale fall through for any reason.

“I thank everyone for their very generous support in helping with our bid and application. I don’t think we could have put a stronger case than we did, but I guess money speaks louder than words and actions in this case.

“However, we won’t be fazed by this and, as the old song says, ‘que sera, sera’.

“We will still develop a centre of excellence for the carers, just not where we’d originally hoped and if anyone knows of an alternative property, please let us know.”

Ten bids were submitted by parties interested in buying the Victorian building.

A provisional bid for an undisclosed sum has been accepted and it is hoped the sale will be completed before Christmas.

Details of the new owner will then be released.

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