Award-winning building auctioned off for £21,000

AN AWARD-WINNING building which cost £750,000 of public money to build has sold at auction to the former head of Yorkshire Forward for just £21,000.

Terry Hodgkinson, who was chairman of the regional development agency, between 2003 and 2010 hopes to keep the landmark Arc building in Yorkshire.

The property developer said: “I knew the building from my previous time with the regional development agency and thought it was a very interesting building.

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“I remember it fairly well; I spoke in it in a previous life and many of my architectural friends spoke in it.

“We will relocate it onto a prominent site, hopefully somewhere in Yorkshire.”

Made of five upended caravans, with an array of mini wind turbines outside, the original premise was that the building would be moved round Hull to promote interest in architecture. But it stayed right where it was in a council car park on Castle Street.

It went up for sale without a reserve after the company which ran it went into liquidation.

Mr Hodgkinson said it could make an exhibition centre, pavilion or a private home.

Its sale has sparked a lively debate between the building’s supporters and those critics who believe it has been a waste of public money.

Mr Hodgkinson, who is restoring Whitby’s historic Engine Shed into an art gallery, said its fate mirrored the property slump: “When it was designed, bear in mind in 2006 the property market was unbelievably busy. The reason this type of building was set up was for design review panels to lift architecture and the built environment up.

“If it did nothing else but achieve that it has achieved an objective.

“It sounds an expensive objective – but now there’s hardly any development work, hence presumably why it is no longer viable.”

Buyers now have six months to shift the building. Mr Hodgkinson thinks it will cost £30,000 to move.

Local historian John Morfin, a critic of the building, was at yesterday’s auction at Gilbert Baitson’s in Hull. He said: “I am sorry that the initiative and staff associated with it have ceased to have any relevance, but the idea that the structure may be removed is most welcome. It is an eyesore and shouldn’t have been approved by the local planning authority. I am astonished that someone was willing to pay £21,000 for this collection of scrap.”