A row of seafront holiday lets built in part on council land sold for just £165,000 has been put on the market for almost £3.5 million.
The seven cottages in Sea Street, Whitstable, have been slapped with the hefty price tag by estate agency Christie & Co – which says the properties generated £430,000 in income from holidaymakers in the past year.
Consisting of one- and two-bed houses, the lucrative site forms part of The Warehouse development that incorporated the formerly Canterbury City Council-owned Oval Chalet plot and land previously occupied by a tile firm.
The local authority struck a deal with house-builders to hand over its chunk for £165,000 eight years ago – a decision that still riles critics.
Graham Cox of the Whitstable Society told KentOnline: “It was sold for a pathetically cheap price.
“It was a missed opportunity for the council on a massive scale.
“We got professional valuers who said the site was worth between £300,000 and £500,000 – not the pittance they paid for it.
“It’s left a lot of people very, very angry.”
The sale sparked a High Court challenge that ended with a judge ruling it had not secured the best price for the 0.2-acre Oval Chalet plot.
Despite this, the judge ruled the sale to Sea Street Developments Ltd – headed by Whitstable Oyster Company boss James Green – could go ahead.
The Warehouse development also featured the erection of eight luxury homes – which were marketed for almost £10 million combined last year.
But Mr Cox says the complex’s tourist properties are part of the recent explosion in the number of holiday lets across the centre of town.
“They’re adding to the serious problem of making the area dead off-season,” he continued.
“The streets behind the beach seem to be 80% holiday lets and holiday homes.”
Advertising material produced by Christie & Co says the holiday homes, which opened two years ago, are “already enjoying a good level of occupancy and strong average daily room rates of about £220”.
The firm also notes that “trading data for the properties shows revenues of just under £430,000” between May 2021 and May 2022.
“The Warehouse Cottages represents a rare opportunity to purchase a high-quality, purpose-built terrace of seven holiday cottages on the seafront,” Christie & Co adds.
“Each unit has private parking and offers accommodation for up to four people.”
Controversy surrounding the Sea Street development began in 2014 with the sale of the Oval Chalet land, which had been a dinghy park for more than 50 years.
Council bosses insisted 12 months ago the site “had to be combined with the land that used to be home to the Tile Warehouse” to ensure its transformation “from derelict scrubland” was a success.
But they said this “limited who we could do a deal with”.
Responding to criticism of the sale this week, authority spokesman Rob Davies said: “The issues around the sale of the Oval Chalet site have been fully investigated.
“Lessons were learned and processes around the disposal of land have been changed.
“As such we have no further comment to make on this historic matter involving a sale eight years ago.”