Businessman's final offer for the Lawn
A businessman whose £1 million offer for The Lawn complex in Lincoln was rejected says it is "unlikely" he will bid again when it goes back on the market.
The City of Lincoln Council turned down Jonathan Pass's offer last July and a subsequent tender process for the main building's lease failed.
Final details of the sale are to be decided after consultation and it is understood offers of around £1 million will be invited.
The sale will include the main complex, the Sir Joseph Banks Conservatory and the South Lawn. The council will retain car parking and the West Lawn.
The bid from Mr Pass, who runs Charlotte House Hotel on the site, which is subject to a long lease, was the only one in 11 months.
He previously unveiled his multi-million pound vision for The Lawn which included a conference centre and hotel with a restaurant, bistro and public bar.
After his attempt to buy The Lawn failed, he said he would be willing to pay double but the property had been withdrawn from sale.
The Echo asked Mr Pass if he would be making an offer this time around, to which he replied: "I have no idea at this point in time – it's unlikely.
"I think it's a good thing that it's coming to market. It's just a shame that it's been left for so long. The building has not improved in that time."
City Hall bought the former asylum and grounds for £425,000 in 1986.
Annual running costs are now £60,000, while the taxpayer also pays £20,000 a year for its upkeep. And the bill for repairs and maintenance is expected to rise to £80,000 over the next two years.
Council leader Ric Metcalfe said the authority had not been convinced by Mr Pass's offer and there was nothing to benchmark the single offer against.
He added that with better market conditions the council is now hopeful of attracting suitable interest and more choice.
The last full-time small business has left the site and there is reduced public access to the conservatory.
In July, the Echo exposed appalling neglect at the hothouse created in honour of pioneering Lincolnshire botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who scoured the world for strange and wonderful plants in the 1700s.
The latest revelation came two years after our initial expose that plants were being left to die.
Paul Scott, honorary secretary of the Horncastle-based Sir Joseph Banks Society, said: "Last time The Lawn was up for sale the council was going to keep the car parks and the land for the Christmas Market – the income-generating parts.
"All the bits where a consortium might like to earn some money to be sustainable, they wanted to keep.
"If someone who is already a tenant offers £1 million for the complex and some visionary concept of what he wants done with it and they turn this down, then we wouldn't have very much of a chance.
"We may have been interested in putting a consortium together to consider a bid for a community asset if the conservatory, the Dawber Garden and the land in between was one parcel of the sale."