Charity Park Lane Stables is leaving its Teddington home of 12 years despite the fact that more than £1m was raised to buy the property as negotiations hit choppy waters.
The charity’s lease period comes to an end on 31 May (Monday) and the ponies will be moved to Manor Farm Stables in Petersham, Richmond, on Tuesday (1 June).
An announcement from the charity said it had been “served a notice of eviction” and that it has been “made clear there will be no further negotiation”. But the landlord’s legal team has since told H&H that they can stay until a solution is found and it will “continue to work to seek an acceptable resolution for all parties involved”.
The stables ran a fundraising campaign to raise the landlords’ £1m asking price when they were first served notice in December.
But the charity says the landlord is now asking for a revised sum of £1.3m, which is also the total amount raised in the Crowdfunding campaign, as he has a separate offer from a different buyer. This is around £460,000 above the figure from the highest of three separate, independent valuations of the property sought by the charity (around £840,000). The seller claims to have received a valuation of £1.35 million, which was met by a third-party offer.
“We are acutely aware of the importance of the service provided by Park Lane Stables and the benefit of that work to the community,” a spokesman for the owner told H&H.
“While we regret the personal circumstances that have forced us to seek new ownership for the stables, we will continue to work to seek an acceptable resolution for all parties involved, and remain committed to supporting the continued services on site whilst the situation is ongoing.”
A spokesman for the charity’s trustees said that their first concern is for the “Park Lane Stables family and our horses”.
“Thanks to the astonishing support of the public we now have the means to secure the charity’s future and are now looking at alternative locations within the borough, to ensure we can maintain our RDA [Riding for the Disabled Association] activities, keep accessibility easy for all our riders,and allow us to retain our colleagues and volunteers,” he said.
“We are confident we can do this but sad we have to leave our current home, which looks set to signal the end of at least 200 years of horses in central Teddington.”
Centre manager Natalie O’Rourke told broadcaster Nick Luck this morning (Thursday, 27 May), that the separate offer received by the landlord is for £1.35 million, £510,000 more than the offer the charity submitted.
There are strict rules on charity spending, meaning that charities are only able to pay a fair or even discounted offer on what a property is worth. This means that while the stables was able to fundraise to buy the stables for £1m, which was above the highest valuation, to push that amount to more than 160% of the top valuation is not possible.
The charity’s “asset of community value” status, which gives communities time to raise funds and bid on land or buildings that have a main use or purpose of furthering the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community without it being sold to someone else first, expires in July.
The move to Richmond is temporary and the charity is looking for an alternative location for its operations.
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The announcement from Park Lane Stables said there had been a “period of discussions” with the seller, during which they were asked to pay the revised sum.
It added: “The trustees of the charity went to great lengths to ensure the integrity of the purchase and to act in the best interests of the people who benefit from its existence. They appointed an experienced solicitor who specialises in buying property for charities and organised three independent valuations of the stables, before making an offer based on the highest valuation.
“The trustees have been informed that another offer for the property has been received by the landlord at the higher figure. Park Lane Stables have now been formally asked to leave at the end of the lease unless this alternative offer is matched, and it has been made clear there will be no further negotiation.”
The announcement stated that a request by the charity for an extension on the current lease “has been denied”.
“[Park Lane Stables] couldn’t legally overpay to such an extent even if they wanted to and therefore are left with no alternative but to find a new location and are committed to doing so,” it continued.
“[The stables are] following clear Charity Commission guidelines that say the trustees are responsible for protecting a charity’s money and assets and that the price paid for property should be fair or even discounted which is clearly not the case here.”
RDA UK chief executive Ed Bracher said: “The priority here is to ensure that the disabled children and adults who benefit from Park Lane RDA’s activities can continue to do so. It is sad that the charity cannot remain at the original site, but we support their work to make sure they can secure an alternative venue from which to operate. This will ensure that they can continue to be a thriving and important local asset.”
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