By Chief Correspondent, Rob Thomas
FORT GILKICKER has its third owner in six years following a successful £1,386,000 bid by an unknown buyer at yesterday’s – July 28 – online auction.
As reported in The Globe the Victorian Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade II* Listed fort standing at eastern end of Stokes Bay in Gosport was put up for auction by Gilkicker Fort Limited with a guide price of £1.5 million.
Not like ‘Homes Under the Hammer’
However, this was not the sort of auction shown on Homes Under the Hammer; rather, the online bidding on the website of land and property auctioneers Clive Emson got underway on Tuesday – July 26 – with an initial bid of £1.35 million from the eventual successful bidder.
By yesterday morning, six more bids had pushed the price up to £1.38 million and there it stayed until the final five minutes when a new bidder entered the race only to be thwarted by the £1.386 million bid which was – as signalled on the website – the first to exceed the reservation price.
There was no auctioneer saying: “for the first time …”, etc., no “fair warning”, and no hammer being brought down to signal the end of the bidding. It just timed out and the ‘Sold’ sign came up.
Accounts submitted to Companies House imply that Gilkicker Fort Limited purchased the fort and access road from Fort Gilkicker Developments Limited last year for £1.1 million.
Awaiting unknown buyer’s plans
The auctioneers would not disclose the name of the new owner and, therefore, the plans for the fort are not known.
The current planning permission is for Gilkicker to be restored and converted into 22 town houses in the gun casemates plus four flats in the former barracks. Estimates of the cost of doing this are between £15 and £20 million.
However, there are other options though these would require new planning permission.
In 2019, when Fort Gilkicker was being marketed by the Chichester branch of property agents Jackson-Stops, its Managing Director Andrew Richardson said that it could be converted into a hotel, while in a BBC South interview yesterday Robert Marchant of the auctioneers Clive Emson said the fort could make a very fine single dwelling.
So, after five developers have come and gone since 1999, the future of the fort remains uncertain – at least, until the new owner goes public on their plans.
Which leaves Fort Gilkicker Information Group facilitator Caroline Simpson, “dismayed to hear that the views of the community have not been represented however as Palmerston Forts Society appear to endorse our heritage being sold irresponsibly from person to person, which also inadvertently damages the local area and wildlife and will inevitably restrict access in the future.”
Photograph (top): Fort Gilkicker. Clive Emson, reproduced with permission.