Queens Arcade – a Victorian era building in Hastings town centre – was sold at auction for £461,000, after receiving 51 bids. The guideline price was £325,000 to £350,000 plus fees.
Last week, Hastings and Rye MP Sally-Ann Hart wrote to the building’s owners Went Tree Trust and its trustees Heringtons Solicitors asking them to ‘seriously consider withdrawing the property from auction’.
However, the building continued to auction today and was sold at 1.14pm.
Afterwards, Mrs Hart said: “Like the traders and I am sure many residents in our town, I am disappointed to see the sale of this landmark building go ahead today.
“There were serious questions for the Went Tree Trust to answer, and the speedy process took many traders by surprise, offering them no time to respond and act.
“I had tried to seek resolution with an extension to the auction giving time for questions and queries to be dealt with, it is a shame this did not happen.
“I will of course work with the traders and new owners to ensure that this landmark in our town centre continues to be a hub for high quality, popular independent businesses that locals and visitors alike love to visit and support.”
The building, which was built in 1882, is owned by the Went Tree Trust, who have trustees from Heringtons Solicitors.
It was in 1924 in the Queens Arcade that Scottish engineer John Logie Baird gave his first public demonstration of television at the site. Many of those early experiments were carried out at his workshop above No 8 in the Arcade.
To this day, there is a plaque, unveiled in 1929, which marks that occasion.
According to the Went Tree Trust’s charity commission page, the Trust’s average income for each of the past five years has been about £63,000 while its average yearly costs over that time have been approximately £100,000.
In a statement issued last week, the current trustees said Queens Arcade was put up for sale by auction in order to ‘secure the charity’s financial future’. It said this was to support the charitable aims of the trust which are: provision of grants to those people of Hastings who wish to emigrate to Commonwealth countries (the Emigration Fund); and provision of grants for the purchase of artefacts for the Hastings Museum (the Museum Fund).
The trust has been unable to make any charitable payments since 2017 due to the day to day requirements of running the Arcade, the trustees said.
The Queens Arcade is home to a number of family-run businesses, including some that have been in the town for decades.
Last week, the owners of Arcade Fisheries and Arcade Butchers said businesses within Queens Arcade were only given three weeks notice of the auction when they received a letter from the building’s trustees.
They said they are concerned new landlords might push up rents and drive the family-run businesses from the Arcade.