Gravesham Council in dark over new Northfleet leisure centre leaseholders

News Shopper: The locked gates outside Fleet Leisure Centre before the lease was auctioned. The locked gates outside Fleet Leisure Centre before the lease was auctioned.

GRAVESHAM Council is still in the dark over who has bought the lease to a Northfleet sports centre.

Fleet Leisure in Nelson Road went into administration in April and the council was negotiating with the administrator for the return of the 50-year lease which has 42 years to run.

The company owes rent and rates arrears to the council and mortgage payments to Lloyds Bank.

Gravesham Council leader Councillor John Burden branded Lloyds “black hearted” after it decided to put the lease up for auction to recover lost funds.

The council, which owns the land and the buildings, was hoping to take over the lease for the sports centre, refurbish it and reopen the facility as soon as possible.

But the lease was bought at auction on Tuesday for £60,000 to a telephone bidder who has so far remained anonymous.

The council has been keen to emphasise the strict conditions on the site’s use which state it should remain a sports and leisure facility.

Cllr Burden said: “At this stage we don’t know who the purchaser is or what their intentions are for the site.

“They have got to pay outstanding bills, which is a routine practice, and we also expect them to fully comply with the terms of the lease.

“We would be very happy if it is their intention to deliver on that because that it what the community wants – good sporting facilities.”

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