Little Cassiobury Sold Subject to Contract (May 2023)
Herts County Council have said that, subject to contract, they have a purchaser for Little Cassiobury. During this process we have been in contact with several potential bidders and know that most have attached conditions to their bid. Based, therefore, on our current understanding LC-CIC have settled on a number of steps we propose to take. Given that:
1. Any commercial development of this difficult site is likely to be subject to stringent planning conditions and a sale is likely to be dependent on securing appropriate planning approval, and
2. A sale that allows Little Cassiobury to be turned into a single residence is likely to be the least controversial from the planning point of view, but also the most unlikely.
In the case of both we intend to keep LC-CIC operating, though at a reduced level (e.g., reduce contact with the Heritage Lottery Fund but increased with the planning authorities and Historic England), until such time as it is clear that the re-development of the site has begun. We will reduce our fund- raising activities to those which have the broadest community interest.
For the assurance of those who have donated to LC CIC all current and future funds are held in accordance with our Memorandum and Articles of Association and in the event that it proves necessary to close Little Cassiobury CIC all sums will be donated to Watford and Three Rivers Trust CVS (W3RT).
Save Little Cassiobury for the Local Community (February 2023)
If you would like to show your support for Little Cassiobury CIC, please email your objections to Hertfordshire County Council, for the attention of Sarah Howard, Senior Estates Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a copy to Sass Pledger, Director Property (email@example.com).
If you would like to write to them, the address is: Hertfordshire County Council, County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8DE.
As a resident of Hertfordshire, I am very disappointed that the Council is not prepared to support a local group of residents, particularly when the Council had written to that group saying they would. We would like the Council to revise their decision and allow Little Cassiobury CIC to apply for funds to make it a community asset.
Thanks for your help!
News Update December 2022
Little Cassiobury CIC (and its predecessor, Friends of Little Cassiobury) have been working for some time to bring Little Cassiobury into community use. Seeing our commitment Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) offered us a Heads of Agreement document which promised a long lease of the property if we could show our plans meant the House could be financially independent. The National Heritage Lottery Fund (NHLF) is aware of this agreement, and earlier this year when they announced that they re-opened new grant applications after the pandemic they asked us to provide more specific details of how this transfer to LC CIC would take place if they were to offer us the funds.
We approached HCC who have refused to acknowledge their commitments. Their defence was that:
1. They have received an unsolicited bid to buy the House from a developer.
a. When asked they first claimed this was large enough to do all the work and provide the Council with a substantial financial receipt. An estimate created as part of our business plan by a quantity surveyor puts this in the region of several million pounds.
b. Latterly, in response to our Freedom of Information Act request the Council confirm that they had no note or minute of an offer but an indication from a developer of their portfolio.
2. That the Heads of Agreement creates no obligations for the Council.
3. That s123 of the 1972 Local Government Act means they could never have transferred the House to us despite what the Heads of Agreement says.
4. That the House is needed as a residential property to relieve Watford’s urgent and growing housing requirement.
Points 1 and 4 are obviously questionable, whilst 2 and 4 are simply incorrect. We are only asking HCC to accept their commitments and to transfer Little Cassiobury to us if we are successful in securing the funds to repair and refurbish it.
We are in the process of raising a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman that they are failing to honour their commitments and preventing us from making the grant application.
At the same time the Watford Observer, Herts Live and Beds Live as well as a reporter for My Watford all expressed interest in these latest acts of the Council.
Can we ask you, our supporters, many of whom have been on this journey as long as we have to write to:
The Watford Observer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Herts Live and Beds Live (email@example.com),
your local and County Councillors as well as Sass Pledger –
Director of Property (firstname.lastname@example.org) expressing your views of the Council’s actions.
National Heritage Lottery Fund (June 2022)
We’ve opened discussions with the National Heritage Lottery Fund for what should be the final time. Applications have re-opened for grants of over £1 million and our aim is to apply for sufficient funds to renovate and refurbish Little Cassiobury all in one bid.
The NHLF are aware of our Heads of Agreement with Herts CC (the owners of Little Cassiobury) and have asked us to clarify how LC CIC will take over ownership of the building. So we have asked HCC to set in motion whatever needs to be done to clarify the process.
Royal Society of Arts (January 2022)
We are delighted to be able to announce that one of our number has recently been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
This is a recognition of the role the team has played so far in encouraging the community use of public assets. However, it also brings with it access to a potential wealth of experience and entrepreneurial skills of other Fellows and this is one of the advantages of this relationship the CIC will hope to see bear fruit in the future.