BREAKING: Bombshell news for Park Lane Stables - live updates

  Posted: 27.05.21 at 07:32 by The Editor

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2.45pm Many Teddington groups have posted their reaction to the news on social media - here's our round-up.

The Teddington Society said : "We are deeply sorry to hear this news, and we'll miss you more than we can say.

"Although sadly you'll be moving from Teddington, at least your future's secure thanks to your spirited fundraising campaign, and we wish you all the very best in the years ahead."

Community group Teddington Together posted : "Today we learnt we will have to say goodbye to @park_lane_stables.

"We thank you so much for all you’ve done, all the joy you’ve brought to residents and all the memories that you’ve given Teddington.

"We wish you all the best in Petersham."

Stables owner Natalie O’Rourke – “I’m devastated and heartbroken.”

Totally Local Teddington added : "Sad news from Park Lane Stables RDA after the amazing support from the local and national public in fundraising for them to buy the land the stables are on."

2.20pm Comedian and actor Rob Brydon has given his reaction to the news.

Brydon helped raise the profile of the stables during their fundraising campaign earlier this year by appearing Good Morning Britain to raise awareness of the stables' work.

He posted his reaction to the news to his 2.1 million followers on Twitter: "Shocked to hear this news, surely this can't happen?"

12.50pm At least four people have stopped by at Park Lane Stables this morning to express their support for the stables.

Park Lane Stables in the 1950s

Owner Natalie O'Rourke said: "The amount of support we've been getting is phenomenal.

"Although there isn't anything we can do it's really great to have so much support here, it helps us be resilient."

10:45am Local resident and veteran broadcaster Nick Luck has been to visit the stables this morning.

Luck interviewed owner Natalie O'Rourke, who explained why Charity Commission rules have made it impossible to meet the Landlord's price despite having raised the money through donations earlier this year.

You can watch a snippet of the interview HERE or listen to his podcast for the full interview.

The Crowdfunder campaign raised over £1.3m

08:10am Munira Wilson has pledged her support for the stables.

She released the following statement: "It is with great sadness that I hear the news today of the eviction of Park Lane Stables.

"I know from talking to local residents how cherished the stables are by the community in Teddington, Twickenham and far beyond.

"For over 12 years, their horse riding, carriage driving and other horse-based therapies for adults and especially children with disabilities have been a lifeline for many families.

"Every year, Park Lane Stables provides 3000 sessions for 350 local people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities, and mental health issues.

“I visited the stables in December, soon after they had been informed that the site would be put up for sale.

"Since then, Natalie and her team have worked tirelessly on the campaign to raise enough money to purchase the property and save the charity, and the British public have shown overwhelming generosity.

“Everyone at the stables continues to explore all options to reverse this eviction or find a suitable alternative site.

"Given the importance of these special stables to the local community and the limited options for development, I urge the landlord to think again.

"Park Lane Stables continue to have my full support in their efforts to retain this valued service within the area."

07:50am : Here is the full statement from Park Lane Stables:

"The charity Park Lane Stables RDA confirms that, with great regret, it is looking for an alternative
location for its operations, after its landlords served a notice of eviction for the end of May 2021
(when the current lease expires).

"This has followed a period of discussions which resulted in the charity being asked to pay far in
excess of what the property is actually worth according to three independent valuations.

"The charity was originally served with an eviction notice on New Year’s Eve 2020 unless it paid the
landlords’ £1 million asking price to buy the property. It ran a successful fundraising campaign to
raise the money to secure its future, thanks to huge support from the public both domestically
and internationally.

"The total raised, £1.3 million, is also the revised sum the landlord is now demanding.

"The trustees of the charity went to great lengths to ensure the integrity of the purchase and to act
in the best interests of the people who benefit from its existence.

"They appointed an experienced solicitor who specialises in buying property for charities and organised three independent valuations of the stables, before making an offer based on the highest valuation.

"The trustees have been informed that another offer for the property has been received by the landlord at the higher figure.

"Park Lane Stables have now been formally asked to leave at the end of the lease unless this alternative offer is matched, and it has been made clear there will be no further negotiation.

"A PLS request for an extension on the current lease has been denied.

"PLS couldn’t legally overpay to such an extent even if they wanted to and therefore are left with
no alternative but to find a new location and are committed to doing so.

"Meanwhile from June 1st they will move to Manor Farm Stables in Petersham, Richmond, on a temporary basis.

"PLS is following clear Charity Commission guidelines that say the trustees are responsible for
protecting a charity’s money and assets and that the price paid for property should be fair or even
discounted which is clearly not the case here.

"RDA UK have been kept informed. Ed Bracher, Chief Executive of RDA UK stated: “The priority here
is to ensure that the disabled children and adults who benefit from Park Lane RDA’s activities can
continue to do so.

"It is sad that the charity cannot remain at the original site, but we support their work to make sure they can secure an alternative venue from which to operate. This will ensure that they can continue to be a thriving and important local asset”.

"A spokesperson for the Park Lane Stables trustees says: “Our first concern is for the Park Lane
Stables family and our horses.

"Thanks to the astonishing support of the public we now have the means to secure the charity’s future and are now looking at alternative locations within the borough, to ensure we can maintain our RDA activities, keep accessibility easy for all our riders, and allow us to retain our colleagues and volunteers.

"We are confident we can do this but sad we have to leave our current home, which looks set to signal the end of at least 200 years of horses in central Teddington.”"

07:30am : Park Lane Stables in Teddington, which launched a successful Save Our Stables campaign, raised over £1.3m, and won support from The Queen, claims today it is being forced to leave its home after the landlord refused to accept its offer to purchase the stables, Nub News can sensationally reveal today.

Distraught owner Natalie O’Rourke will now move to Manor Farm in Petersham with her staff and the horses on a temporary basis from next Tuesday, June 1.

She told Nub News exclusively: "I am personally devastated and heartbroken that after all our hard work that things have come to this.

"We have no option, as a charity we simply cannot over pay like this.

"My priority remains doing what we do for the people that need us most. I have to remain strong for the vulnerable people around me and I will continue to give my all to them.”

The shocking news comes after the landlords and their solicitors served a notice of eviction for the end of this month, when the current lease expires. A request for a lease extension had been rejected.

Nub News understands that the charity Stables offered £840.000 after independent valuations, but the landlords are demanding £1.35m and claim they have a rival offer at the full asking price.

The developments will be a bombshell to the local community which rallied together to help raise the money with nearly 32.000 donations from all over the world.
The campaign attracted international headlines as well as massive coverage on the BBC, SKY, ITV and Countryfile.

However, late last night in a dramatic development and following enquiries by Nub News and the BBC, the landlords appeared to be softening in their hard line approach and offered a lease extension “until a resolution is reached.”

A spokesperson for the landlords said they had been in touch with solicitors for the stables and issued a short statement to Nub News after being approached for a reaction to the shock announcement by the Stables.

The letter said: “I write further to my earlier e-mail today. Having sought further instructions from my client, I am instructed that they are willing to consider terms of a short term extension of your client’s occupational rights.

“Please would you let me have your comments on my letter of 24 May 2021 and contact me tomorrow to discuss matters.”

A spokesperson for the owners told Nub News exclusively: “We are acutely aware of the importance of the service provided by Park Lane stables and the benefit of that work to the community.

“While we regret the personal circumstances that have forced us to seek new ownership for the stables, we will continue to work to seek an acceptable resolution for all parties involved, and remain committed to supporting the continued services on site whilst the situation is ongoing.”

The spokesperson for the landlords also provided the following background:

- The current lease ends on 31 May 2021; the owner has expressed a willingness to extend this to allow continued operation of the Stables until a resolution is reached.

- Recognising that it is usual market practice for any transaction to secure an appropriate market valuation before making a reasonable offer, that advice sought and the advice given was that the suggested price should be £1.35m.

- The valuation was provided by a well-known, independent and reputable market leader in surveying services. This valuation was met by a third party offer and validating the valuer’s understanding of what the market is willing to pay for the property.

Local celebrities including Clare Balding, Rob Brydon, Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio, and Rory Bremner also offered their support and The Queen was so touched by the campaign her office invited the staff and riders from Park Lane to visit the stables at The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace.

In a statement, first released to Nub News, the Stables claimed the charity was being “forced to leave its home after landlords make its position untenable.”

It added: “The charity Park Lane Stables RDA confirms that, with great regret, it is looking for an alternative location for its operations, after its landlords served a notice of eviction for the end of May 2021 when the current lease expires.

“This has followed a period of discussions which resulted in the charity being asked to pay far in excess of what the property is actually worth according to three independent valuations.

“PLS couldn’t legally overpay to such an extent even if they wanted to and therefore are left with no alternative but to find a new location and are committed to doing so. Meanwhile from June 1st they will move to Manor Farm Stables in Ham on a temporary basis.

“PLS is following clear Charity Commission guidelines that say the trustees are responsible for protecting a charity's money and assets and that the price paid for property should be fair or even discounted which is simply not the case here.”

In correspondence on May 10 from the solicitors acting for the landlords, they state it is their ‘client’s preference’ to sell to the charity but says an offer from a ‘third party’ meets the asking price of £1.35m.

The letter states: “As a consequence of this offer having been made, the price at which our client is prepared to sell to the Charity is fixed at £1.35m. We understand that the Charity has raised sufficient funds to meet this price.

“As there is no indication that the Charity will make an offer commensurate with the third party offer our client has received it unfortunately appears that the sale to the charity will not proceed.

“Our client regrets that this is the case. However, in light of the position as it currently stands it will be important for the parties to take steps to ensure that the possession of the Property is now delivered back to our client by 31 May 2021 in accordance with the Lease.”

In a separate letter, the solicitors write: “The Charity’s offer to purchase the Property at a price of £840.000 is rejected.”

It adds: “Both I and the freeholder are naturally therefore surprised and disappointed at the offer the Charity has made which is £510.000 less than the price at which the Freeholder is prepared to sell.

“The offer is particularly surprising given that I understand the Charity has raised funds in excess of the proposed purchase price and is therefore on a position to make an offer which the Freeholder will accept. So that there is no misunderstanding, the Freeholder’s preference is to sell to the charity.”

Highly-respected racing broadcaster Nick Luck, who lives locally and has actively supported the campaign to save the stables since the beginning, told Nub News: “After such a brilliant and inspiring fundraising effort, it is utterly heartbreaking to see Natalie and her beloved horses and ponies leave Park Lane Stables today.

“While everyone who has donated should be assured that they have secured the short-term future of the charity, these stables mean everything to Natalie, the Teddington community and – most importantly – the thousands of families from every London borough and every walk of life for whom Park Lane has been such a lifeline.

“I would implore the landlords and their advisers to consider their options very carefully.”

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