Future of unfinished Plymouth retirement flats still unclear

Plymouth retirement

The building was supposed to be ready by mid-2020 but activity stopped when the Covid pandemic began

The future of a huge unfinished block of Plymouth retirement flats is still unclear despite the company that owns it vowing it intends to finish the building. Work stopped at the eight-storey Mayflower Court tower at Millbay in 2020 and two years later the building is still covered in scaffolding with no workers on site.

The building – which will contain a cinema, bar, and a community café – was supposed to be ready by mid-2020 but activity stopped when the Covid pandemic began and never restarted.

In 2021 it was revealed the construction firm engaged to oversee the project, Wales-headquartered WRW Construction, had gone into administration owing creditors, including some Plymouth firms, £30m ($37.59m).

The charitable Abbeyfield Society, which was behind the project, has continually said it still intends to finish the job and is working on a timeline for Mayflower Court’s completion.

This week a spokesperson from The Abbeyfield Society said: Unforeseen circumstances have led to regrettable delays in the construction of Mayflower Court. We are working hard to resolve the issues and we are still committed to bring state-of-the-art retirement apartments to the heart of Millbay.

We are making good progress and hope to present a new timeline for the projects’ completion in due course, which will help to address the need for affordable housing for the community’s older people, the spokesperson said.

The company marked the ‘topping out’ of Mayflower Court, an 83-apartment development opposite the Millbay quayside, in November 2019 and envisaged finishing the block by the spring or summer of 2020. But the building is still covered in scaffolding and looks little different, in June 2022, than it did in late 2019.

Abbeyfield’s annual report and accounts for the year to the end of March 2021 revealed the company made a surplus of £1.3m ($1.63m) in 2021, compared to a loss of £10.7m ($13.41m) in Covid interrupted 2020. But turnover for the year reduced by £2.8m ($3.51m), or 5.6%, from £50.9m ($63.77m) in 2020 to £48.1m ($60.26m). The company has £133.4m ($167.14m) of housing assets.

The report also revealed the Mayflower Court project had been bedevilled by issues involving building firms.

The report said: Our 83-bed development at Plymouth Millbay was suspended as our main contractor struggled to keep subcontractors on site. We are currently reviewing work schedules and costings for the project now that restrictions are easing in the construction industry.

In 2021 it was revealed that despite a £60m ($75.17m) pipeline of work, and a reported turnover of £64.2m ($80.44m), construction firm WRW’s directors took the decision to put the business into the hands of administrators when they failed to raise sufficient finance. WRW closed all its sites when the pandemic arrived in 2020 and furloughed many of its workers and took out a £5.1m ($6.39m) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

But the firm then collapsed into administration and made more than 100 people redundant.

Its biggest single creditor was alternative lender Thincats, owed £10m ($12.53m). Unsecured creditors of WRW were owed a further £18.3m ($22.93m).

Mayflower Court is part of the vast regeneration of the Millbay area and was expected to create 150 full- and part-time jobs when completed. When it is finally finished, the Extra Care Scheme will offer tailor-made care packages to residents aged 55-plus, enabling them to live independently as singles and couples, with additional care available 24/7 where required.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by our writers are their own and do not represent the views of Getting Money Wise. The information provided on Getting Money Wise is intended for informational purposes only. Getting Money Wise is not liable for any financial losses incurred. Conduct your own research by contacting financial experts before making any investment decisions.

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