The former St Anne’s School in Lewes is to be sold to the spiritual community of Subud.
East Sussex County Council’s resources committee approved the disposal of the 1,825sq m of freehold buildings to the preferred bidder at a meeting on Tuesday.
The chief operating officer will negotiate and agree terms for the sale and apply to the secretary of state for consent, as well as approving the use of the sale proceeds from the sale of the school playing fields.
Councillors heard the bid panel chose Subud unanimously out of the three bidders as they would ‘deliver a range of community benefits that will be made available to the wider community’.
The report said: “These include two community halls and other community rooms, including a cafe, and the grounds of the former school will be landscaped to include a garden and play area for children that will be open to the public’.
The Subud Lewes Group is one of the larger groups in England, with about 100 active members, and has its base in Station Street with rooms hired out for workshops, classes, meetings and therapy sessions.
The centre has two halls and a meeting room, with kitchen facilities and a courtyard garden and its website states 30 different community groups use the venue.
There are approximately 1,200 people in Subud Britain, and over 50 meeting venues where people come together for the spiritual practice known as the latihan, a direct personal experience of and connection with the highest universal power, something every human being has the capacity to feel and experience.
The committee report said it was ‘recognised that the value that has been achieved is likely to be less than that which could have been achieved if sold for residential purposes’.
Repairs to the buildings would cost more than £1million and £25,000 or more was being spent annually on maintaining and securing the site.
The valuation and details of the bids were exempt information but the report said there had been an ‘exhaustive marketing process and ‘the bidding process has been very competitive and the disposal of this property will yield a significant capital receipt to the council’.
“The scheme proposed by the Subud will contribute to the economic and social sell-being of the local area and, therefore, it is recommended that in recognition of these benefits the council dispose of the property at less than best value,” the report said.