The City of Lincoln Council is now taking bids for the sale of The Lawn.
The building is now being marketed and potential buyers can submit their bids by midday on March 7.
The Lawn site totals around 1.62 hectares and includes three main buildings, the main complex, the conservatory and Charlotte House (which is subject to a long-term lease), as well as the south lawn and car parking.
The Grade II listed building was formerly a hospital, with the main complex built in 1819 and Charlotte House added in 1938 and then the conservatory in 1989.
The public open spaces surrounding The Lawn – the West Lawn, the recently refurbished play area and much of the public car parking – will remain in council ownership.
The council bought The Lawn for around £400,000 over three decades ago and decided to sell it in October 2011 because it wasn’t sustainable anymore.
In past years, the council did not carry out any planned repairs to the building, just essential and responsive repairs worth £47,000 per year.
More than 2,000 people have signed a petition against selling The Lawn, arguing it is an asset for the city’s heritage (more on The Lawn sale debate).
City Council Leader Ric Metcalfe said: “The decision to sell The Lawn was a difficult one, but is the right one, as we simply don’t have the funds to make the best of such a fantastic asset, and it doesn’t sit within our strategic priorities.
“A private owner could make the necessary investments and ensure the future of The Lawn, really making something of the complex, which is what Lincoln people deserve.
“I would like, once again, to reassure the public and the current tenants that we will carry out a very detailed evaluation process, ensuring that the sale is in the best interests of the city.
“Our decision to sell will not be based on price alone, and any sale will be subject to the leases of existing tenants who currently occupy premises at the complex.
“We will do everything in our power to ensure that the future of The Lawn is secured and we’re confident that in the right hands, Lincoln people will have a revitalised facility that they can be proud of.”
The brochure marketing The Lawn sale explains the long lease of Charlotte House expresses a covenant by the council, in favour of the tenant, not to use or allow use of other parts of the Lawn complex as a hotel.
The council expects to continue use of its retained land for the Christmas Market upon sale.
Use of the Lincoln Suite for the craft market and the access route between the Main Complex and Charlotte House will be lost from the council’s direct use.