The historic Conservancy Building was sold at auction for £590,000 today, with a guide price of £450,000.
Cllr Alex Paterson, Councillor for Rochester West said, ‘Despite the opposition from myself, Medway residents, and Labour colleagues the Conservancy Building, a valued part of the Guildhall museum, was sold at auction today.
‘When you consider that there is currently a three bedroom flat in the heart of Rochester on sale for £975,000, the sum of £590,000 for one of our historic building borders on the absurd; especially when compared to the priceless educational and cultural value that the Conservancy Building provided to the people of Medway, as well as the intrinsic value attached to public ownership of shared heritage.
‘Funds from the sale of the Conservancy Building has been promised to Rochester High Street for investment, but the iconic site has been sold for less than £2 per Medway resident. It’s questionable at best that the sum of £590,000 can make a significant difference to other historic buildings in Rochester, especially considering that the Corn Exchange alone will require at least £1 million in investment to be brought up to standard.
‘Our concerns throughout this process have been consistently proven to be justified and despite my numerous requests the Conservative-run Medway Council have yet to share how the sale of the Conservancy Building fits in to strategic plans for the future of Rochester High Street, and until these plans are forthcoming I am forced to assume that there is no long-term plan for the continued success of Rochester high street, nor protection of our heritage.’
Cllr Andy Stamp, Councillor for Gillingham North and Medway Labour Spokesperson for Regeneration and Communities said, ‘Medway Council and the people of Medway are extremely lucky that the Conservancy Building was sold to an organisation which is civic minded enough to retain the building for something close to its current purpose.
‘The Labour Group has been clear from the start that the decision to sell the Conservancy Building was a short-sighted move. But the manner in which the Conservatives have disposed of the building also leaves a lot to be desired. A private sale could have achieved a much higher sale figure, as well as the assurance that it would be sold to an appropriate organisation.
‘I call on Medway Council to provide assurances that the sale of the Conservancy Building has significance in the context of long term plans for Rochester High Street, as well as Medway’s regeneration as a whole. It’s not unreasonable to suspect that this sets a precedent for the sale of local heritage sites, so it’s now up to the Council to show that they have a plan for protecting our heritage by keeping historic sites in public ownership.’
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"The sum of £590,000 for one of our historic building borders on the absurd; especially when compared to the priceless educational and cultural value that the Conservancy Building provided to the people of Medway" Cllr Alex Paterson, Councillor for Rochester West