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Historic former Cambridge library back on the market for offers around £700,000

Former Mill Road Library has been registered as an Asset of Community Value

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A year after Cambridgeshire County Council thought they had sold a redundant former Grade II listed library in Cambridge; the winning bidder has pulled out of the deal. The county council had agreed a sale of the former Mill Road, Cambridge, library to Centre 33 who had intended to use it to expand their work supporting vulnerable young people.

Now it is back up for sale and is being marketed by Gerald Eve with a guide price of £700,000.

“The county council is keen to encourage as much interest as possible to secure the best future for this historic building,” said a council spokesperson.

One caveat is that Mill Road Library has been registered as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) following representations from the community.

“This process is managed by Cambridge City Council,” said the spokesperson.

The historic former Mill Road Library is a Grade II listed building in central Cambridge with huge character, that dates back to the 19th Century.

The historic former Mill Road Library is a Grade II listed building in central Cambridge with huge character, that dates back to the 19th Century.

The potential sale to Circle 33 followed a successful court battle to evict previous tenants, the Indian Community and Culture Association (ICCA).

ICCA had enjoyed a rent-free occupancy since 1999 but the tenancy agreement made them responsible for repairs and maintenance: the council argued they had not kept their side of the bargain.

However, the ICCA claimed it had spent up to £250,000 on repairs over the years and had hoped for an agreement for other work to be carried out over a period of time.

No agreement could be reached, and the building was repossessed in January 2020 after an application to the county court.

The county council said it was forced to bring the building back into good repair by the city council conservation officer.

Donald Insall Associates, conservation architects, were appointed to specify and oversee the work required which was completed in 2021 at a cost of almost £500,000.

The historic former Mill Road Library is a Grade II listed building in central Cambridge with huge character, that dates back to the 19th Century.

The historic former Mill Road Library is a Grade II listed building in central Cambridge with huge character, that dates back to the 19th Century.

The building was let for a time to Hill Residential in July 2022 as a site office to serve the Mill Road Depot redevelopment by Cambridge Housing Investment Partnership.

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This allowed the building to be heated and to dry out, and to reduce the county council’s liability for the property holding costs.

The building was offered to the council’s development arm, This Land Ltd, and to Cambridge City Council but both declined.

During the earlier marketing period, there were two legal challenges about the ownership of the library and the county council’s ability to sell it.

“Legal advice received is that the county council is the freehold owner of the property and is free to dispose of the property without restriction,” councillors were told.

“Both challenges asserted that the council held the property on a charitable trust. The second challenge asserted that this was the council’s intention (to hold the property on trust) when it acquired it in 1892.

“No evidence has been found that this was the case either at the time or in the manner that the property has been held and managed in the 130 years since.”

Offers will be considered by the assets and procurement committee in June.

“Councillors will review not only the financial bid made but whether the offer delivers environmental and social benefits,” said the spokesperson.

Jane Webster, principal urban surveyor at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “It’s a unique building which people will have to see to appreciate, including attractive red brick façade highlighted by the recent refurbishment.

“Large windows and high roof space give a light and airy feel to the building.

“The building has real character with massive potential, making this a unique opportunity for the right buyer.”

Anyone interested in finding out more information should contact Tristan Ball (07825 280910, tball@geraldeve.com) or Ben Gilbey (07393 764732, bgilbey@geraldeve.com) at Gerald Eve agents.

Assistance can be provided in preparing community bids and making the necessary notification by emailing right-to-bid@cambridge.gov.uk .

More information on the premises can be found at: https://www.geraldeve.com/properties/?propertyid=24746

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