Hammer could fall on Auction Hall set for conversion into offices

Pam Mills
GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE The Auction Hall closed earlier this year

Councillors will vote on Wednesday [September 19] on whether to allow a developer convert the building on Linden Park Road, near to The Pantiles, into workspaces for around 20 companies.

It is understood the much-valued car park next to it will not be affected by the proposal, but it would see the loss of the longstanding auction house – which closed earlier this year in its original function.

Development consultants Kember Loudon Williams submitted the application and wrote: “Regrettably, it is proving increasingly difficult to let and maintain the current auction house.

“This is due to a combination of the general downturn in retail/sales activity and the ever-increasing presence and competition from web-based auction sites.

“The latter in particular has had a serious impact on the application site and resulted in a high turnover of tenants, many of whom have defaulted on their lease agreements.”

The applicant added that the auction house business was in ‘serious decline’, but the conversion would be a boost to Tunbridge Wells’ business prospects.

In the past five years the town has seen 22 per cent of offices lost, with developers able to convert the space into more profitable property through permitted development rights. The council has now taken steps to ensure offices are protected.

Kember Loudon Williams said the new offices will be ‘flexible’ and ‘would support a combination of start-up businesses and individuals’.

The statement continued: “It is hoped the combination of commercial / business use will foster growth and help to offset some of the employment and office space lost through the permitted development rights.

“This is most notable at Union House, to the north west of the application site.”

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