Bath firms search for new homes after historic building is sold
More than a dozen businesses have been left looking for a new home after an historic building was sold.
The Dispensary, at Cleveland Place, which had become a key centre for Bath's creative sector has been sold to an undisclosed buyer.
The Victorian grade II listed building has for 16 years been the home of graphic design firm Radio, with another 16 other small creative businesses joining it over the years.
Peter Whitehead, creative director at Radio, which is the primary tenant at the Dispensary, said they had been negotiating with landlord St John's Hospital for more than a year to buy the building but had been outbid.
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He said: "We started negotiations with them last September and then we handed in our notice in March. We were led to believe we would have a smooth transition from tenant to landlord. We wouldn't have done that if we knew there was the possibility of this happening.
"I find it unacceptable that a loyal tenant could be treated like this."
Mr Whitehead said companies at the Dispensary were now desperately looking for new homes.
"We are now re-homing the Dispensary and we are being offered refugee spaces around the city.
"Because of the timing we've also asked people to come in at the weekend to pack and shift stuff. There's been a real galvanisation of the creative community.
"The loyal support we've had is fantastic."
All of the businesses at the Dispensary have until September 29 to leave the premises though they have been offered a tenancy by will, which is a rolling, flexible lease but would give the firms just one day's notice.
Jonathan O'Shea, chief executive of St John's Hospital, explained that because it is charitable organisation the sale had to be done on the open market.
He said: "They gave notice to terminate the lease and because we have charitable status whenever we have a property we are looking to dispose of we have to put it on the open market because we have to get best value for money.
"We asked for best and final offers last week. We had three bids for it and unfortunately for the tenant they were not the highest bid.
"The tenancy comes to an end on September 29 but we have had an offer with the tenant for a month now to extend the lease on a tenancy by will which is a temporary lease that allows both parties to have flexibility."
Mr O'Shea said the building had been sold to an independent Bath firm but could not reveal its identity.
The Dispensary was built in 1857 and originally provided accessible, low-cost health care to people across the city. The building has also been an art gallery.