The five bids on the table

The Old Town Hall, Horsham. photo by derek martin
The Old Town Hall, Horsham. photo by derek martin

HORSHAM District Council received five bids for the Old Town Hall following its decision to market it in December.

The one that scored the highest in the council’s evaluation was Bill’s Produce with WJ King in second place.

The financial aspects of the bids were given 55 per cent weighting and financial status 15 per cent, and 25 per cent weighting was given to the potential benefit to the economy and five per cent for the suitability of required physical alterations to the Grade Two listed building.

The bids with their score in brackets were:

1. Bill’s Produce: Leasehold of £60,000 per annum for a 20 year lease with six month rent free period for use as a restaurant on both floors (93.56)

2. WJ King Brewers: Leasehold of £60,000pa for a 20 year lease with a 12-month rent free period and the second year at 50 per cent for use of ground floor as a cafe, one ground floor room for letting out to the community, a small room retained as a heritage centre and the first floor to be used as a traditional ale house (84.62)

3. Harvey Sands LLP: A freehold offer on £650,000 (51.53)

4. Harvey Sands LLP: A freehold offer on £500,000 plus a five to ten year leaseback of the first floor to the council at a peppercorn rent for community use (48.52)

5. A sealed bid from community group Blue Flash Music Trust (BFMT), which has made several legal challenges to the council’s decisions over the past few years.

On Tuesday night cabinet member for efficiency and resources Roger Arthur said: “The BFMT did have the opportunity to bid for the town hall, but the council was not given the permission to open it.”

The council had to wait until a judicial review application was heard and therefore, Mr Arthur said, they have never been able to see what the Trust would do with the hall.

The council had considered delaying the decision, but decided that in the current climate, the expectation of other bidders and the uncertainty of the judicial review timetable, the process should not be put on hold.