Auction windfall helps Doncaster eye care charity improve services

A Doncaster-based eye care charity is to improve its services for clients throughout the UK after securing an unexpected windfall from the sale of a derelict former clothier and furnishing store.

Tuesday, 5th April 2016, 11:32 am

The property in St Sepulchre Gate West is in such poor condition that prospective buyers were not allowed inside, and the guide price at auction was set at just £19,000.

But Regional Property Auctioneers found bidding remarkably brisk on the way to a final price of £83,500, and even after the costs of selling the building The Partially Sighted Society is now able to pay for its own optometrist.

Anita Plant, the Society’s CEO, said: “Our sight test centre has relied on a volunteer optometrist, which limited the availability of the services. Now we will be able to pay someone to come in and do the work for us.”

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The Society was founded around 30 years ago by George Marshall to complement the work of charities for blind people by helping partially-sighted people make the most of the vision that they have. Years later it moved to Doncaster because the general manager of the time lived there. The property in St Sepulchre Gate West was bought for conversion into a new headquarters, but it remained empty.

Anita said: “It was broken into about nine years ago and wrecked. The Society didn’t have the money to renovate it so it was boarded up while they waited for the property market to improve.

“When I took over we looked again at renovating it to generate income but it was clearly far beyond our means and scope. We didn’t have the money or the expertise and it was a liability so we decided to sell it. We put it up at a low guide price and we have been lucky.

“We are a national charity and we are completely independent. We don’t receive any Government funding and we rely entirely on things like legacies, donations and corporate support.”

The former premises of JW Halliday Clothiers and Drapers, which survived into the 1960s as Brookfield and Halliday, was bought by Erdal Ozkaynar, who admitted he has only carried out an external inspection.

He said: “I have to see inside it and then I will decide what I can do with it but I would like to have a shop on the ground floor with residential accommodation upstairs.”

James Vandenbrook, auction manager and valuer at Regional Property Auctioneers, said: “The building is in poor condition and that was reflected in the guide price but it has a character which makes it stand out from other properties and during the sale there was a real buzz about it, a huge amount of interest from bids in the room and telephone bidders.

“We were delighted that we achieved such a good price and that the proceeds from the sale have made such a difference to the Partially Sighted Society. Mr Ozkaynar is also very happy with his purchase because the building gives him a potential source of income.”