Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) has recognised Sandye Place as an Asset of Community Value for a further period of five years. As just about everyone in Sandy knows, Sandye Place Academy closed in September 2019 as part of Central Bedfordshire’s change from a 3 tier to a 2 tier system of education. Sandye Place has subsequently stood locked up, forlorn and idle apart from a limited number of set piece occasions like the Sandy Carnival and our local celebrations of the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Coronation of King Charles. The future of the Mansion House, School Buildings and Grounds remains uncertain, but one of the things that has kept hope for future community use of the site alive has been its status since November 2018 – achieved by Sandy Historical Research Group (SHRG) and Sandy Town Council working together – as an Asset of Community Value.

That status was awarded only for a five year period, expiring in November 2023, and there was concern in all the interested parties, including SHRG, Sandy Town Council, Sandy Neighbourhood Plan Working Group, and the CBC Ward Councillors for Sandy, that it might not be renewed given the limited use the community has been allowed to make of the site since the closure of the Academy. An application for a new registration was however submitted during October 2023, again in the name of SHRG but with the full support of the Town Council and with a testimonial from the organisers of the Sandy Show, and we were advised on 27 December that our application had been successful – Sandye Place has again been recognised as an Asset of Community Value, for a further period of five years.

This renewed recognition of the status of Sandye Place has been warmly welcomed. Sandy Mayor Joanna Hewitt said “This is wonderful news. Having the site listed in this way will be helpful to everyone working to achieve the best outcome at Sandye Place for Sandy and its residents”, while CBC Ward Councillor Simon Ford added “It’s fantastic news and with so much work going on behind the scenes to get the site used for community use, having this agreement in place shows a joint approach of everyone working together to get the best outcome for Sandy”.

The formal notification to SHRG from CBC reads: “Further to the nomination for the above to be listed as an Asset of Community I am pleased to advise you that the application has met the criteria and we will now add the above to the List of Assets of Community Value for a period of five years. Please note that the owner will have a right to request an Internal Review and if still dissatisfied to appeal to First Tier Tribunal on this listing.

Once an asset is listed, nothing further will happen unless the owner decides to dispose of it. Where an Asset is included in the List of Assets of Community Value, the owner is required to notify CBC in writing of their intention to dispose of the Asset.

If this happens, CBC will notify the nominating group that we have received notice of an intention to dispose of the Asset. The List of Assets of Community Value will also be updated to show that we have received notice of an intention to dispose of the Asset, together with the date of that notification and the resulting interim and full moratorium periods and the protected period.

At this point, the nominating group will be given six weeks to let us know in writing whether they wish to be treated as a potential bidder for the Asset. This will trigger a six-month moratorium period that will enable them to develop and submit a bid to purchase the Asset from the owner”.

Richard Barlow, Secretary of SHRG, stated “As we said five years ago, Sandye Place is a historic site right in the heart of our town, and the whole community has an interest in preserving the opportunities for sport, recreation, and public events which it provides. Our application for renewed Asset of Community Value status highlighted how important Sandye Place can continue to be for everyone in Sandy. Gaining this status doesn’t guarantee the future of Sandye Place, but it means that any proposal to sell the site would trigger a formal opportunity for the Sandy community as a whole to discuss and debate the matter”.

Sandy Historical Research Group and Sandy Town Council
19 January 2024

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