A Doncaster community building has been bought up by town businessman – with a pledge to open it up for local groups.
But concerns have been raised over the sale of a building which was bought with grant funding less than 10 years ago at a total cost of around £1 million.
Uncertainty had been hanging over the future of Mexborough Resource Centre on Dolcliffe Road, after it was put up for sale by the not-for profit community organisation which owned it.
But now the building has been bought by Peter Newman, the man who runs Mexborough Business Centre.
The deal which has seen him take over the site will see the Mexborough Community Partnership, which previously owned the building, given rent free accommodation in the building for the next 10 years. The organisation will also be paid installments for the building each year for the next 10 years.
The partnership was on the verge of going into administration, and considering selling the site for cash to a London based development company.
Mr Newman confirmed that a deal had gone through with the Mexborough Business Centre, but did not say how much had been paid.
He bought Mexborough Business Centre in 2015, and the building, the former Mexborough Grammar School on College Road, is now 87 per cent occupied, with businesses including hair salons.
Mr Newman said he liked what the Mexborough Community Partnership represented in terms of development and regeneration.
He said: “Our main objective is to revitalise the building and create a hub that is relevant, accessible and open to all types of organisation.
“We aim to accommodate several different types of organisation and groups, by tailoring out facilities and equipment as much as possible to suit their varying purposes, while making access access and use of the building flexible and easy.
“This purchase, for us, is an opportunity to engage with the wider community, to encourage groups to base as many of their various services and offerings here, instead of having to go further afield and hopefully to being some energy back into the place.”
He wants the community partnership to work with local charities and community groups to help them raise funding. A meeting with officials from the partnership is planned.
Mr Newman wants to make rooms available for rent for short periods of time, such as hourly slots.
He has already brought a nursery into the building.
Sue Phillips, chairman of Mexborough Community Partnership, said the partnership was happy with the deal.
The building was originally bought with money which had been awarded to the partnership in grant funding.
But she said the partnership had been advised by lawyers that the deeds on the building had no restrictions on its sale.
She added: “We at the partnership now are not the same people who were there when the grant funding went through.
“It was impossible for us to keep the building. Last April we lost 40 per cent of our business, followed by Dearne Valley College pulling out of IT courses it ran there, because they lost funding.
“We had to sell the building to keep the partnership going.
“Peter wants to keep it as a community hub, which is what we want. We feel that is better than it being converted into posh flats.”
She said the partnership planned to consult with the public on what work it wanted to see it engage in in the future, in addition to helping local organisation with funding applications.
But former partnership chairman Colin Black is unhappy with the sale.
Mr Black was chairman when the building was bought and renovated nearly 10 years ago.
He said: “We paid around £200,000 for the building then, and around £800,000 renovating it, because it was in such a poor state at the time.
“That came through grant funding. I’m not happy about the sale, and I’m concerned that it may have been been sold for less than we spent on it.
“We initiated this to get prestigious offices for the partnership, and now they’re getting rid of it. The money was supposed to be going to run Mexborough Community Partnership.”