MYSTERY surrounds the identity of the new owners of an educational facility in Battle after an independent school claimed it was ‘gazumped’.
Sussex Coast College, formerly Hastings College, has been responsible for Pyke House in Upper Lake for more than 30 years.
The college stopped hosting residential visits at Pyke House in 2008 and students stopped using the facility in 2010.
Last year the college decided that Pyke House, a registered charity which must be used for educational purposes, no longer suited its needs and it was put up for sale.
Battle Abbey School put in an offer for the Grade II Listed building, which was accepted by the college.
But on the day of exchange on December 12, a rival bidder put in a higher offer, which was accepted, leaving Battle Abbey’s plans in tatters.
James Dennett, marketing manager at Battle Abbey School said: “Our offer to purchase Pyke House had been accepted by South Coast College but unfortunately, on the day of exchange, the college accepted a higher offer from an anonymous bidder and we were effectively gazumped.
“We had hoped to buy Pyke House to provide more classroom and ensuite accommodation for our boarding pupils.
“One of the first tasks was to redecorate the front of the building which looks rather dilapidated and presents a poor image to visitors to Battle. We hope that the new owners will still undertake this work.
“The school is now considering other projects and some significant opportunities have since come to light that may well prove to be a better long term prospect for Battle Abbey School.”
The for sale boards have been removed in recent days.
Rumours are flying around Battle that a language school or private property developers could be behind the purchase.
But independent commercial property consultant Dyer + Hobbis, which is handling the sale, and Sussex Coast College are remaining tight-lipped over the new owners.