In this post we give an update on Tapton House as the Civic Society sees it.
The Borough Council’s selling agents, Knight Frank, have been actively marketing Tapton House for several months and have reported some interest and viewings. The firm has now written to everyone who has expressed interest inviting a definite statement of intent if they wish to proceed.
The property remains available on one of two tenures: a 999-year lease at a peppercorn rent, or a short-term rental lease. In both cases Knight Frank have asked for details of the proposed purchaser or tenant, their intended use for the property, and any conditions a purchaser or tenant would seek before proceeding (e.g. planning permission, a building survey, or site investigation).
In the case of the sale of a 999- year lease, the firm wishes to receive a definite offer price and confirmation that funding is in place. For a short-term lease, in addition to the proposed rent, they are seeking the proposed lease length, rent reviews, repairing obligations and any option to break during the term. In both cases, not unreasonably given the nature of the property, Knight Frank wish to have some background information about the purchaser or tenant, including financial track record, and the target timescale for the completion of the sale or lease.
All this suggests that the Borough Council wish to conclude either a sale or lease as soon as possible, ideally before the winter sets in and the building is threatened by weather damage.
Even if they were not in a position to move into the property, a new owner or tenant might be better placed than the council to increase security around the mansion and its immediate grounds. This we feel is urgently needed, not least to guard against the risk of deliberate arson or accidental fire damage.
The present impasse cannot continue indefinitely or the mansion will become seriously at risk, despite the best efforts of the Borough Council to protect it. Since the agents wrote to interested parties, Tapton House has been discussed at a meeting of the Borough Council, one outcome of which is a statement by the responsible cabinet member that no decision has been made as to whether to sell the mansion and grounds and that discussions with other interested parties are continuing. This comment gives the unfortunate impression that there may be further delay in finding a solution that will guarantee the future of Tapton House.
The Civic Society takes a more pragmatic view than the Friends of Tapton House, who want to see the building and grounds remain fully in borough council hands, as we do not see this as sustainable in the future. The friends have suggested some type of community use, but we fail to see where the money would come from to keep Tapton House running in the future. This is particularly so in the current economic circumstances. Neither has there been a really workable solution on what exactly the house would be used for. However, readers may wish to visit the group’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/taptonfriends – to read about their views on the property and learn about a petition that the friends have launched to keep the house and estate fully in the Borough Council’s hands.