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Former Bridestones II owner promises to ‘keep on building’

The company that 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.”

Scarborough, which has now sold the site, was given planning permission to redevelop the Bridestones II site in Congleton more than a decade ago but after problems over who owned the land – the car park next to the current Bridestones – and then the pandemic, the town has waited years for the plan to start. It was to include a town square, cafes and restaurants. It was thought that Cheshire East owned part of the site but this proved untrue, and Tameside council pension plan was the apparent owner.

Scarborough’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”. The company told the Chronicle it had sold the site to a local developer earlier this year.

The report said that 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.

This report has been updated to reflect the fact that Scarborough has sold the Bridestones II site. Apologies to Scarborough for the factually incorrect previous story.

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