One of oldest buildings in Crawley Ancient Priors in line for £160,000 refurbishment
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The Grade II listed Ancient Priors, which has stood in the High Street since c1450, has been mostly empty since previous tenants ASK fell foul of the financial cost of the pandemic.
During a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (July 19), it was agreed to use capital funding to pay for repairs to the building, which was described as being in ‘a poor condition’.
Leader Michael Jones said: “That work is needed to keep the building maintained in good order and, when it’s done, it may also make a big difference in us being able to attract a new retail tenant into the building.”
At the moment, a firm of solicitors is housed on the top floor.
Conservative leader Duncan Crow questioned how well the building had been managed since being bought by the council in 2016.
Mr Crow pointed out that the value of the Ancient Priors had dropped from £1.5m in 2016 to £1.1m today, bringing in £16,000 in 2022/23 – a yield of 1.44 per cent.
He said: “[This] is a very low yield compared to other properties that the council owns.
“Now we’re being asked to pay £160,000 to bring that building up to scratch.
“And while I see that we don’t really have any other option but to do that – we want to hire that building out – it does look as though this has not been managed very well.”
Mr Jones said: “Sometimes some investments are more successful than others.
“Until ASK vacated the building we were getting a good annual income out of the property.”
Pointing the finger of blame for the drop in value firmly at the economy, he added: “Clearly there is a challenge here and retail probably isn’t as strong as it was back when the property was first bought.”