ICONIC town building The Grange has now been registered as an Asset of Community Value in an extraordinary turn of events surrounding the Grade II listed property.
It comes after Leviathan Consulting successfully bid £500,000 to purchase the Grange Road venue from Malvern Hills District Council, only to pull out of the deal over a dispute about the availability of information on the building.
Before the council announced the sale, Malvern Civic Society had nominated The Grange to be registered as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), in a move to ensure the building provided direct benefit to local people. At the time the application was deemed to be invalid as it was not on the correct form, but on Friday (August 15) the council confirmed the application had now been successful.
Clive Hooper, chairman of the civic society, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the decision the council has at last made, although it does clearly expose its unfortunate approach and apparent delaying tactics in originally rejecting the same nomination on the grounds that it was not submitted on the council’s form.
He added: “This is an exciting opportunity for Malvern. We want The Grange to be a building for the whole community, and its location makes it ideal for that.
“We shall also be seeking early discussions with the council, as owners of The Grange, to establish on what terms it would be prepared to make the premises available.”
The ACV gives the society six weeks to decide if they want to proceed with purchasing the property and ifso, a further six months to obtain the funding to back the bid. The Observer reported in June that Hekmat Kaveh, the owner of Abbey College on Wells Road, had met with members of the civic society and was prepared to underwrite a bid at the time before the debacle surrounding the form unfolded. Mr Kaveh welcomed the latest news but said he had not been in contact with anyone from the society since, adding he looked forward to hearing from them.
The ACV status is now set to last five years.
As well as confirming the registration a council spokeswoman added MHDC was currently reviewing its options for The Grange but had no plans to re-market the building at this stage.