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Local landmark to be sold to foreign buyer

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Fulham Town Hall is set to be sold either to a Singapore based hotel group or an American retail group.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which is holding an exhibition about these future plans at the town hall today, Tuesday December 13 from 1pm till 9pm, says it can no longer afford to maintain the Grade II Listed Victorian building, which was built in 1888.

After being put on the market in May alongside a range of other "under-used" council buildings, the council says it received interest from 12 bidders from all across the world and the council has now whittled that down to a final shortlist of two, both of whom are going public at the exhibition.

Together with commercial property experts, Lambert Smith Hampton, the council believes that these two proposals best respect the historical character of the building and its public heritage and would regenerate the surrounding area.

The council says the frontrunners to acquire the iconic, landmark building are Dory Ventures and Mastelle Group.

Dory Ventures, an American-based retail group, features Maclaren as its leading UK brand. Recognised for its range of children’s and maternity products, Maclaren would be the anchor occupier in a lifestyle emporium which would also house other Dory brands, Laser Performance and Albert Thurston.

In its proposal, other parts of the building would be restored for high quality, private residential use.

Mastelle, a Singapore-based hotel group, is recognised for its successful restoration of Bethnal Green Town Hall, and proposes a similar concept in Fulham. Its redevelopment of Fulham Town Hall would comprise a 50 bedroom hotel with restaurants and bars for hotel residents and the public.

It has been predicted for months that the building is most likely to become a hotel, and yesterday Loh Peng, the Singapore tycoon behind the bid, said he has a "long-term commitment to sharing it with the community".

Peng's property business Unlisted Collection specialises in creating hotels in restored heritage properties. He told business publication City AM that if all goes according to the plans drawn up by Rare architects, a 45 to 50-room hotel will open by the first quarter of 2013, alongside three restaurants, a bar, a spa and themed internal courtyard gardens.

Peng added: " I love the building, and I think it's an opportunity to put the town hall back into the centre of Fulham’s social and economic life."

Cllr Nick Botterill, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, said: "I am sure that everyone who attends the exhibition will agree that these two, very different proposals will provide Fulham Town Hall with a new lease of life, ensuring that it flourishes for decades to come in a way that is financially secure and avoids public subsidy.

“We have also been very careful to ensure that both of these remaining bids will preserve the rich heritage of this building in a way that benefits Fulham as a whole as part of the biggest regeneration of the area since the Broadway development.

" We are also pleased that both these schemes will see the building available for public use so that residents and visitors can enjoy the building in all of its glory.

" We look forward to a solution that breathes fresh life into Fulham, improves the council's finances, creates numerous jobs and launches a new era of prosperity for this famous building."

Until now, Fulham Town Hall has been home to parking attendants, housing officers, cemeteries staff and registrars. All council officers currently working in the building will be relocated elsewhere.

A final decision is expected to be made in the new year. The council says the sale of the Town Hall will only be completed once the agreed purchaser has obtained the necessary planning permission and Listed Building Consent.


December 13, 2011