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Congleton
Saturday, September 25, 2021

No mention of long-awaited Bridestones plan in developer’s report

The company that has left Congleton’s planned town centre development untouched for 10 years has promised to “keep on building” in its latest annual report.

Scarborough Group International’s report for the year to February 2020 showed that its principal activity – property trading and development – left it with losses of £503,000 in its profit and loss account compared to losses of £6.3m the previous year.

The losses were primarily caused by borrowing costs on property developments that were not capitalised into stock on the balance sheet, and a “significant impairment” to the value of its Springs Shopping Centre in Leeds.

But, said the report: “Despite these troubled times the group’s motto is ‘keep on building’ and with that in mind the group is on target to commence major works in all our Northern Powerhouse developments located in Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester.”

In Congleton, 10 years on since Scarborough was given planning permission to redevelop the Bridestones shopping centre, there is still no sign of giving the area a new lease of life, which would include a town square, cafes and restaurants.

The company’s 2017 report said the group had been working closely with Cheshire East Council to acquire some adjoining land “to facilitate the comprehensive redevelopment of this key site in the heart of Congleton town centre”.

“The redevelopment of The Mills will see the construction of a new retail quarter in the town centre, together with extensive public realm improvements including a creation of a new town square and an upgrading on the current market,” said the 2017 report.

The last note of optimism for Congleton was a line in the 2018 report that said the long term picture for the UK, “especially within the Northern Powerhouse region”, remained “robust”.

No mention of Congleton was made in the 2020 annual report. It said that at Thorpe Park, Leeds a new 130,000sqft office building would be developed with the benefit of a 100% pre-let contract in place and potentially a smaller 62,000sqft office building was scheduled to start on site this year.

Two speculative office buildings in Sheffield were on target to start construction in the first quarter of this year, and similarly the third phase of a residential development at Middlewood Locks, Manchester was due to start on site in the spring, comprising 189 new homes in addition to the 1,089 homes already delivered or under construction from the earlier two phases.

The net development value of this building pipeline is circa £150m and should produce development profits “of substance” said the report.

It said that during the first half of 2020, the group realised £25m from the sale of Bramall Lane Stadium, The Enterprise Centre and The Shirecliffe Academy in Sheffield.

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