Liverpool Council considers Compulsory Purchase of troubled £200m New Chinatown site

Earlier this year the Bilt Group, the contractor which carried out the first phase of work, collapsed and efforts to find another developer to acquire the site have come to nothing. Tony McDonough reports

New Chinatown is a mixture of residential and commercial developments costing £200m

 

Council chiefs are considering a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the stalled £200m New Chinatown development in Liverpool.

Earlier this year the Bilt Group, the contractor which carried out the first phase of work on the site, collapsed, and work on the site has stalled.

Site owner Chinatown Development Company had attempted a sale of the site involving Your Housing Group but that deal fell through.

CPO powers

A report to the city council’s Cabinet next Friday, July 21 is requesting CPO powers be used if the Chinatown Development Company cannot sell the site to another developer.

The firm, at that time called Tribeca, acquired it from Manchester developer Urban Splash in June 2015.

It stated its intention to create housing and leisure scheme called New Chinatown.

To be delivered over three phases, the scheme was to create a new urban quarter with 790 new homes, 11,246 sq m of commercial and retail floor-space and a 140-bed hotel.

In December 2015, phase 1 of the scheme was granted detailed planning consent and outline planning consent was given for phases 2 and 3.

A 250 year-lease on phase 1 was granted in April 2016.

Failure to deliver

Since then the sales agent for the company has been accused of fraud on the Hong Kong market which had such a massive impact on sales that works on site stalled and the building contractor collapsed.

Failure to deliver the scheme has led the city council to take action.

Following negotiations it has now been agreed the site be independently marketed over the summer for a new developer to deliver either the consented scheme or an amended scheme.

If a commercial sale does not materialise the report recommends the city council use its CPO powers to assemble the site at Great George Street for redevelopment under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

New developer

The CPO for New Chinatown will be conditional on identifying a new developer which is prepared to agree to underwrite the city council’s costs in preparing, submitting and processing the order and funding the acquisitions.

This would include the £950,000 debt that is owed to the city council in relation to the phase 2 site.

Councillor Ann O’Byrne, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, said: “Liverpool City Council has been deeply concerned with how events have unravelled with the funding of Chinatown Development Company scheme.

This report illustrates how hard we have been working to rectify the situation and the lengths we will go to, if necessary, to ensure the site is developed.

“It is vital that a new developer is found to get this scheme – or an amended one – back on track for the good of the China Town area, the city and those who have invested in it.”

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