A popular Sidcup farm which includes a café and play centre is under threat of closure.
Kelsey’s Farm are based opposite Bexley garden centre and a petition has been created from those who enjoy facilities on site.
Beck Evens own the land and appear to have made changes and storing cars on site without necessary planning permission, with enforcement recently undertaken by Bexley Council against the car dealership ordering them to “cease the use of the Land for car storage, removing all stored cars from the Land” which is located behind the children’s play centre, café and shop.
It is believed that Beck Evans are now proposing a rent increase on the farm’s owners and their facilities.
“When Beck Evans purchased William Kelsey’s freehold interest in the property, it was on the basis of an agreement reached with William Kelsey that he would become a leaseholder for a period of 5-years when occupying the majority of the land.
The terms of the lease were that for first 3-years William Kelsey would enjoy paying a subsidised rental calculated at 60% of the market value. After 3-years the subsidy would cease and a rent review, based upon current market would follow. The specialist firm Savills were commissioned from the outset to provide independent advice.
Since becoming owners, Beck Evans entirely at its own cost, has undertaken numerous improvements to Farm for the benefit of visitors and the environment generally. These improvements have included the car park, the cycle shelter, disabled parking bays, creation of traffic calming measures, new entrance gates, solar lighting, replacement picnic tables, natural hedging and most importantly the planting of over 1,000 trees. Furthermore, Beck Evans intends to install electric car charging points for the benefit of the Farms customers.
Unfortunately and despite the huge sums of money Beck Evans has spent to improve Kelsey Farm, the local authority’s planning department continues to thwart Beck Evans attempts to redevelop parts of the site that it occupies that will as a necessity benefit its core business that has been in operation locally for the last 40-years.
Such improvements if allowed to be put in place would have enabled Beck Evans to delay the rent review that would have the effect of allowing William Kelsey to continue paying a subsidised rental.”
It would appear the owners are stating that their current illegal changes to land must be allowed or the farm cannot remain, which appears to be laying the blame elsewhere for their own mistakes or decisions in conducting work without planning permission.
It’d be interesting what they think market rent should be for a site that is heavily constrained by designated planning uses. Is their expected “market rate” based on being a car storage area or dealership (which isn’t allowed) or a farm?
Many of their improvements, such as entrance gates, hedging, solar lighting and parking could also be used for their own benefit upon taking control of the land.
They also state “to ensure that customers continue to enjoy visiting Kelsey’s Farm, it is my intention to create a new operating company to not only run Kelsey Farm but to further improve and enhance the existing facilities for the benefit of all.”