Palingswick House charities 'face eviction by Hammersmith & Fulham council'

By Kaye Wiggins, Third Sector Online, 5 May 2010

Palingswick House

Palingswick House

Community group Upper Room says 23 organisations could be turned out if local authority sells the property

Twenty-three charities in west London could be left homeless next year following the expiry of a covenant requiring the building they occupy to be used for charitable purposes.

The leader of a steering group representing the charities based in Palingswick House, Hammersmith, has warned that they could be asked to leave if the local council sells the property.

Bruce Marquant, a project manager at community charity Upper Room and one of the steering group's leaders, told Third Sector that councillors from Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which owns the building, had confirmed it was considering selling the property.

He said the building had been used for charitable purposes since it was left to the borough by a wealthy family in the 1880s, but that he was not aware of a legal obligation to continue allowing charities to use it. 

The council has asked the steering group to develop a proposal for the future use of the building and present it as part of a consultation process that will take place after today's local election, said Marquant.

"We have to show them that in future we can run it in a way that delivers better value than it does at the moment, both socially and financially," he said.

The current lease will run out on 30 August, and Marquant said the council was required to give six months' notice if it wanted the charities to vacate the building.

"If 23 tenants are willing to put up a fight, it's a difficult situation for a developer to take on," he said.  

A spokeswoman for the council said there had been a covenant that required the building to be used for charitable purposes, but this had expired.

"No decisions have been made with regard to the future of Palingswick House," she said. "We are working closely with the community groups within the building and will consider the full range of options when the current arrangements come to an end. There will, of course, be a full consultation before any decision is made."

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