Developer Urban Splash lost £10.3m during “another tough” year, which has forced it to keep sitting on several mothballed sites
The £10.3m loss for the 12 months to 31 March 2010 is an improvement on its £38.3m loss the previous year, however. The Manchester developer’s turnover dropped to £34.5m from £49.9m, in a year described by chairman Tom Bloxham as “another tough one”.
Last year the company had net debt of £202m, but this year’s figure won’t be known until it files full accounts.
Explaining the results, Bloxham said: “Residential sales continue to be a challenge, due to a very difficult mortgage market and negative sentiment of many valuers which made every apartment completion a challenge.”
The firm is under fire for keeping various sites mothballed as it struggles to navigate choppy economic waters.
Residential sales continue to be a challenge due to many valuers’ negative sentiment
In Somerset the developer is due to build a mixed-use scheme at Watchet Marina, but work remains stalled after several years. In April, Bloxham asked the local council for a further two-year interval to let the economy recover. West Somerset council now wants to terminate the development agreement and is seeking legal advice.
The firm has also mothballed two major Merseyside regeneration projects, one at Liverpool’s former ABC cinema and the other at Southport’s former Pleasureland complex.
Better news came in Scotland, however, where Urban Splash made its first foray north of the border, gaining planning consent for a £60m mixed-use development at Irvine House at the mouth of the River Irvine in Ayrshire.
During the year Urban Splash completed schemes in Manchester and Plymouth, bringing its total fixed assets to £256m.
Urban Splash was founded in 1993 by Bloxham and initially specialised in converting warehouses in north-west England into apartments. Since then it has expanded nationwide; its projects include Fort Dunlop and Rotunda.
Tom Bloxham’s year
“A friend of mine who is a mountain climber tried to reassure me during the worst of the economic crisis; he explained to me that when he was at the top of the mountain it wasn’t actually much fun; it was freezing cold, gales, rain, hail…
“However, he explained that once he had descended the mountain and was relaxed in his hotel in front of the roaring fire and looked back up at the summit he had successfully overcome, there was a huge satisfaction. I am still looking forward to that feeling.”