Thornton Heath is being held to ransom by the absentee leaseholders of Ambassador House who would rather landbank the eyesore building rather than convert it for housing.

The council is now being pressurised to compulsory purchase the redundant office block. The 60s building, which is key to the regeneration of Thornton Heath has sat empty for years.

The council did take legal advice last year about a Compulsory Purchase Order but this was ruled out because it was considered ‘too high risk’.

However, given the huge housing shortage across the country it is now pursuing a legal case and stands a better chance to seize it for housing usage.

The Chronicle revealed last month that Cherif Investment Properties Ltd were interested in acquiring Ambassador House; however their efforts were thwarted.

The directors of Cherif are: Lord Maxwell Beaverbrook, the Rt Hon Maxwell Aitken and Christian Yates.

Mr Yates told The Chronicle: “We agree fully that the redevelopment of Ambassador House is key to the regeneration of the centre of the town. It is indeed an eyesore and blight on the local area.

“Unfortunately we are no longer involved in the project due to the difficulty in dealing with the leaseholders. We tried for almost 18 months to come to some accord but eventually had to walk away having spent a considerable amount of time and money on working up a very exciting largely residential scheme.

“Unfortunately until the leaseholders can be persuaded to act in the best interests of the local  community which will also best serve their own purposes little progress will be made.”

Network Rail are the freeholders of Ambassador House but there are a head leaseholders Greyfriars Assets, and sub leaseholders – Sajid Bashir CEO of Copperstones International Property and Red Wing Property Holdings Ltd, also involved. In addition there are separate leaseholders for the shop and pub premises on the forecourt.

In last month’s Chronicle we revealed that Wetherspoons had served the break clause on its lease and would be closing.

This came after Barclays Bank announcement that it would close its Thornton Heath branch in December.

Turn to page 2 to read about the fight to keep the pub open and news of new businesses opening in Thornton Heath.