A redundant court house in Wisbech bought for £150,000 nine years ago by property developer John Foster is back on the market with a guide price of £150,000- £200,000.
The former magistrates court and adjoining current operational police station are offered as a whole by selling agents Maxey Grounds.
The former courthouse is available with vacant possession “with potential for a range of business, leisure or storage uses or redevelopment”.
The police station including yard area and shared use of a car park is let to Cambridgeshire Police Authority on a long term lease at a rent of £1 per annum until 2094.
The freehold of this area is included in the sale subject to this lease. The police station has been recently refurbished at the tenant’s expense.
Maxey Grounds has advertised the sale by online auction on Thursday 23rd February 2023, with a closing time of 7pm.
Mr Foster bought the magistrates court a year after he had sold his company, Foster Property Maintenance, to Lakehouse in a multi-million pound deal.
Surprisingly confirmation that Mr Foster had bought the property of the sale came from Shailesh Vara, at the time Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for Justice.
It followed a surprise announcement in the House of Commons last Thursday that a planned auction of the court house had been called off pending a sale to a local developer.
At one stage Fenland District Council had considered buying it.
As I reported at the time, the council called off their proposed purchase following their failure to negotiate a transfer out of the building by Cambridgeshire Police.
Fenland Council had looked at buying the building to ‘round off’ the Nene waterfront regeneration project.
Mr Vara defended the speedy sale of the court building, arguing the Government needed to dispose of surplus property assets “as expeditiously as possible”.
He said since the court closed in April 2011, the Department for Justice had incurred monthly costs of £1,500 at Wisbech and once the council withdrew their offer it was decided to put the property up for auction.
“However, in the meantime an offer was received from a local developer at an acceptable market level,” said Mr Vara.
The minister, in a letter to NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay, said the issues of the police willing to vacate later this year “and the fallout from the previous transaction on the Nene waterfront were not advised to us.
“The Ministry of Justice took full professional advice about the offer and decided to accept it, thereby negating the need for the property to be sold at auction.”
Mr Vara said the sale “represented best value for money for the taxpayer- both in terms of price received and avoiding further unnecessary costs”.