A CHARITY has instructed its solicitors to start the process of buying a building which it is running as an arts centre.
The four trustees of the Foxlowe Arts Centre, at the top of Leek's Market Place, hope that the purchase of the Georgian property, pictured, will be complete by Spring this year.
The charity, which has been running the centre for more than two years, will be taking out a private mortgage with the current owner of the site.
Although it is believed that the property has been valued in the region of £600,000, the Foxlowe Arts Centre will be purchasing it for £1million.
The charity had initially considered purchasing all of the adjoining land with the building for the asking price of £1.2million, but the land to the far rear of the property, which has derelict garages, is now to stay in the hands of the current owner.
The announcement that the purchase of the Foxlowe is imminent came at last week's Leek Town Council meeting when three of the charity's trustees attended to update councillors, who have agreed to give the charity £25,000 a year for three years in support of the purchase.
The announcement was further cemented at a Foxlowe Arts Centre pledgers' update meeting the following evening.
The purchase is also being made possible by a donation of £175,000 from the Parkside Trust, along with a further £30,000 in donations, to pay for the deposit.
This will leave the charity with a mortgage of £795,000, which it will pay off at £53,000 capital repayments a year for 15 years, as well as five per cent interest, which will be £39,750 in the first year.
Chairman of the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Kent-Baguley, explained that the charity is currently paying £50,000 a year in rent which is covered by revenue from activities in the arts centre.
He also explained that the £25,000 that the council is donating will help offset the interest payments, resulting in the charity having to find £14,750 in the first year.
Councillors asked how the charity would cope after the three years of £25,000 from Leek Town Council ended.
Mr Kent-Baguley, said: "We would save some of the pledgers' money; we have around 270 pledgers at the moment paying at least £2 a week, if not more.
"Also by year four, the interest payment will have decreased to £31,800. And by then we would have been submitting bids for substantial grants and funding.
"We will also be carrying out a public launch at the point of purchase to hopefully gain further pledgers."
Leek Town Council had asked to see up-to-date accounts for the arts centre.
However, Mr Kent-Baguley told councillors that, even though the charity's financial year ends in October, the accounts would only be ready "in around three weeks' time".
Mr Kent-Baguley also reported to councillors that the current owner had carried out some urgent works on the building, including tackling dry rot in the cafe along with some roofing repairs, and has also agreed to pay for more roof work.
Town councillors were told no structural survey had been carried out on the building.
During the following evening's pledgers' meeting, Mr Kent Baguley introduced the new interim centre manager Ian Wilson, who has been tasked with temporarily running the centre as well as submitting a report to the trustees on howthe management structure should operate.