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The fight continues to save Swan Street building in Kingsclere

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The fight is continuing to save a popular Kingsclere community building from being sold to developers.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has put 24 Swan Street – which is home to the 200-pupil JLD School of Dance, Baughurst Blades and Eira’s Equestrian Supplies – up for sale after deciding the building wasn’t financially viable to keep.

Kingsclere Parish Council has applied to the borough council for the building to be listed as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ (ACV) – meaning the community has six months to buy it at market value without needing to get into a bidding war.

24 Swan Street, Kingsclere ..Ref: 32-1321. (50076594)
24 Swan Street, Kingsclere ..Ref: 32-1321. (50076594)

The borough council will decide on the building’s ACV status later this month and council leader Ken Rhatigan (Con, Tadley North, Kingsclere & Baughurst) said he fully expected the application to be accepted.

Mr Rhatigan said he hoped the building would be able to stay in the community but that the council needed to ensure it was getting “the right amount of money for an asset we don’t want to keep”.

He added that there were third parties interested in the building but that there were no firm offers, with potential buyers waiting to see the ACV status before showing their hand.

The building is currently being priced at £750,000.

In the meantime, a charity provisionally titled the Kingsclere Performing Arts and Youth Centre is being established with the intention of raising the money to buy the property – potentially with a mortgage.

The charity will look for funding from groups like Greenham Trust, while it will also look into a Government initiative called the Community Ownership Fund, which allows community organisations which are at risk of losing their premises to apply for funding to allow them to buy the asset.

If it's able to buy the property, the charity would then look at leasing out rooms for income.

One of the architects behind the charity is Hannah Horton, the co-director of the Kingsclere Performing Arts College, which operates out of both 24 Swan Street and the Catholic church across the road.

Mrs Horton said she was feeling “generally optimistic” about the chances of saving the building from developers and keeping it in the community.

She said: “I’m feeling like this is a fantastic opportunity to do something really valuable for a building that’s been largely neglected for a really long time, particularly the upstairs.

“We’re getting a prospectus in place for where we could be in five years’ time, and it’s a really excellent opportunity for the village.

“It’s a small village and young people need things to do.

“We’ve been here before – when we bought the Catholic church across the road it was a really long road, but we found a way.

“Things seem to be going in the right direction.”

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