Legal queries halt sale of Bexhill woodland

Bexhill Town Hall SUS-161205-111335001
Bexhill Town Hall SUS-161205-111335001

Controversial plans to auction off an area of council-owned woodland have been put on hold following legal advice.

The 2.01 acre St Mary’s Wood, in St Mary’s Lane, was due to go under the hammer at The Marriott Hotel in London on Monday (May 9).

But following legal advice, Rother District Council, which owns the woodland, decided to withdraw the lot from sale.

A Rother District Council spokesman said: “St Mary’s Wood was withdrawn from the auction after we received legal advice that the site might be considered as a public open space, which would require the council to satisfy certain procedural requirements prior to sale.

“A member of the public also queried whether this might be the case.

“Once we’ve received clarification on this matter, we will be formally advertising the proposed disposal and inviting comments, which will then be reported to cabinet for a final decision.”

However the sale of other pieces of council-owned land in Rye, Camber and Winchelsea Beach did go ahead - smashing the guide price.

Last month Rother said it had hoped to raise £195,000 from the auction, a figure which had included the sale of St Mary’s Wood.

But the auction helped to boost cash-strapped RDC’s coffers to the tune of £265,000.

The 71 acre Camber Fields on New Road, Rye, sold for £154,000 - way over the £70,000 guide price.

Rother had previously turned down an offer from a group of Rye residents to purchase the land for the guide price.

A piece of land adjacent to Cedar Cottage in Draffin Lane, Camber, brought in £52,000, while land adjacent to Sycamore Cottage, also in Draffin Lane, was sold for £42,000.

Another piece of land adjacent to Sea Spray Holiday Park in Dogs Hill Road, Winchelsea Beach, went under the hammer at £17,000.

The RDC spokesperson added: “The other lots in the auction all sold at above the guide value.

“At a time of great financial pressure, disposing of these sites enables us to reduce our costs and reinvest the money into assets which will bring in a long-term income for the council.”

Rother District Council’s cabinet voted to dispose of the sites at a meeting in August last year.

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