THE OWNER of the Abbey College has claimed he was willing to pay upto £500,000 for The Grange to safeguard it for public use, but was shunned by the district council.
The Observer can reveal Hekmat Kaveh was the man prepared to underwrite Malvern Civic Society’s offer for the Grade II listed building, before their bid to have it registered as an asset of community value (ACV) failed.
Mr Kaveh confirmed he was prepared to buy the property outright and allow the public to use the entire bottom floor for free, while he would convert part of the upper floor into flats for a small return. But he said his preference was for Malvern Civic Society to lend the money from him for their own bid and pay it back interest free over 12 months.
But the owner of the Wells Road based college, stressed he was not ‘in it for any personal gain’ and simply wanted to ensure the building remained a benefit to the community having lived nearby in Priory Road for more than 20 years.
Mr Kaveh claimed he expressed his interest to the council but no one responded and ultimately decided to sell The Grange to another bidder – now confirmed as Leviathan Consulting. The authority ruled the civic society’s application to have the building registered as an ACV was unacceptable because it was on the wrong form.
Mr Kaveh said: “I felt it would have been a beautiful solution and I am extremely disappointed we haven’t been given the opportunity to see it through.
“I have walked my children and my dogs past there many times, it’s a beautiful building which should remain for public use.
“I fully understand the council has its own agenda and has to raise funds to operate what it needs to do but they haven’t given any value to the idea of public use, it was just a question of who can pay more.
“I offered to protect and do whatever the council wanted me to do but I got the feeling nobody was interested.
“What a shame for the public an opportunity like this has been lost.”
Mr Kaveh added the building would have still fetched £500,000 – the amount successfully bid by Leviathan – even if the council had waited six months to allow the civic society to bid, because the sum was ‘cheap’ for The Grange.
In response, Sandra Hudson, estates and facilities manager at the council, confirmed the Executive committee considered Mr Kaveh’s separate bid from his company Crystalight, but claimed the offer made with the civic society was submitted after the deadline adding Mr Kaveh was advised accordingly.