UPDATE: £875,000 Solent fort fails to sell at auction

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A CGI of the last plan for the Pall Europe tower, which has now been axed

Anger as stalemate emerges over future plans for derelict Portsmouth building

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An historic Solent fort which has stood at the edge of Portsmouth for nearly 150 years is still for up grabs after failing to sell at auction.

Horse Sand Fort went under the hammer this afternoon with a reserve price of £875,000 but no buyers were willing to stump up the money needed.

The fort, which was completed in 1880, was one of four built off the coast of the city to protect against seaborne attack.

Auctioneers Lambert Smith Hampton carried out the sale but the bids fell £5,000 short of the reserve price.

The property was being sold on behalf of owner Clarenco LLP.

The fort was originally used as a military defence to protect the city against French invaders, but because it took 15 years to complete it was barely needed to help in the battle.

It was rearmed during the two world wars before being deemed surplus to requirements by the Ministry of Defence in the 1960s.

It cost £425,000 when it was first built.

A spokesperson for Lambert Smith Hampton said: ‘Bidding fell £5,000 short of the reserve price so the property didn’t sell today.

‘We had considerable interest from bidders from the local area and also from overseas, and we hope to agree a deal in the next few days.’

Advertising on Right Move, its marketers said the fort ‘enjoys unrestricted sea views across the Solent to Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and out to sea.’

It added: ‘The fort would offer residents the ultimate in seclusion, fantastic views and a rare chance to reside offshore in a unique location.’

Despite the 73m diameter site being listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, planning permission for conversion to 14 luxury apartments was secured in 2004.

The fort has been open to the public since last year, after it had been left abandoned for decades.

Amazing Venues - run by Clarenco LLP - has also turned two of the other forts, No Man’s Fort and Spitbank, into luxury hotels.

St Helens, the other fort, is not open to the public.

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