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A rare chance to buy one used courthouse
A FORMER RAF base, a magistrates’ court and a site once earmarked for an asylum centre are among the places on an unusual shopping list.
The Government previously designated 900 sites across the country as surplus to requirements and put them up for sale.
For the first time a new website, ‘Find Me Some Government Space’ allows anyone to view what sites Whitehall has on the market.
In Oxfordshire there are 10 for sale and four for lease.
Among them are RAF Bicester, Didcot Magistrates’ Court, the doomed asylum centre near Bicester and the former Prison Officers’ Club in Kidlington.
No price tags have been put on the sites, but estate agent Mark Charter, of Oxford-based Carter Jonas said: “I think the whole lot is probably worth more than £20m.
“It would have been worth a lot more if Warneford Meadow could have been developed, but it needs to be preserved as meadow or green space.”
Oxford’s Warneford Meadow was given Town Green status by Oxfordshire County Council, under the Commons Registration Act, in 2009.
One of the most fought-over sites on the list is A-site, almost 38 hectares of surplus MOD land, between Arncott and Piddington, near Bicester. In 2005 villagers stopped controversial plans by the Labour Government to build an open-door asylum centre at the site.
Four years later the Home Office was given planning permission to build Britain’s largest secure immigration removal centre, which could have housed up to 800 people. It has never been built.
RAF Bicester’s flying field is also on the list, although its sale by the MoD’s property arm Defence Infrastructure Organisation, is expected to conclude in March. Former motor racing boss Adrian Reynard and local charity Bomber Command Heritage are two of the shortlisted bidders.
A former prison officers’ club in Kidlington, now home to 72-place Cygnet Nursery, is also up for grabs.
Nursery owner David Smith said: “I didn’t know the building was for sale. I would be interested in buying it.”
The former Didcot Magistrates’ Court, which served the town for 54 years, closed in June 2011 as part of restructuring by the Court Service.
Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith said: “Not only will this website help to save Government money but we will see new opportunities, jobs and growth in local economies as new life is brought into empty, unused properties.”