The Priory Quarter, the clutch of new and redeveloped buildings between Havelock Road and Priory Street that was intended to form centre stage of the University of Brighton campus in Hastings, is getting new freehold owners. 

PICTURE: Colin Gibson

Lacuna Place, with 32,000 square feet of office space, has been sold by the University to Hastings Borough Council (HBC). Havelock Place, with 25,000 square feet, has been bought from the development company SeaChange by ‘a private investor’ – identity not revealed at this stage, though it will presumably appear in due course on the Land Registry title. Two other edifices, the University Building at Priory Square and the Havelock Building (on the other side of Havelock Road) will be cleared by the University immediately after the end of the academic year in July with a view to sale from September on.

PICTURE: Colin Gibson

As detailed on page 3, the fifth floor at Havelock Place had already been leased to a radiology firm, Medica, while the rest of both this building and Lacuna Place were taken on a 15-year lease by the Department for Work and Pensions from January last year. However, the terms of this lease, which apparently included a rent-free period for the first year, had left SeaChange in financial embarrassment, having to seek support for rescheduling of their loan repayments from their funders SELEP (South East Local Enterprise Partnership). The sale of the Lacuna Place reversion to HBC will enable them to clear this deficit and move on (and out).

It is less clear why HBC has stepped in to buy it. No public announcement has been made by the council as to what capital sum has been spent on the investment or from what source it has raised the funds. The rent due to be paid by the DWP can be regarded as guaranteed income over 15 years, and the level may well justify the deal from an accountancy point of view in an era of low interest rates. But is it too much to ask that the council provide an explanation for its intervention?

For a fuller account of comings and goings at Priory Square, click here


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