Pension Fund Negotiates Purchase from HSBC Administrators and Work Resumes on Luxury Complex

updated 30.09.10

Highland Perthshire is rife with rumours that a deal has been struck for the sale of Taymouth Castle Estate and its 450-acre estate to a London-based pension and investment fund, supported by a consortium of English hotels. Apparently work will soon begin again on the ambitious luxury complex which came a financial cropper in 2009, and construction managers, architects and surveyors are already being hired.
Although not yet official, indications are that Meteor Asset Management – a wealthy London-based fund – completed a deal on 22 September. The impetus for getting the project back on track and completed by 2016 is the Ryder Cup scheduled to be held at Gleneagles that year.

One priority plan is understood to be the extension of the existing James Braid golf course to raise it to full international standard and allow prestigious tournaments to be staged. Early completion of the clubhouse, and other facilities due to be housed in the ground floor of the castle, is anticipated. 

Tourism Boost
If confirmed, the news will be an immense boost to tourism and jobs in Highland Perthshire. The original scheme was aimed at creating a 6-star tourism resort with a 150-room hotel, an upgraded golf course, a state-of-the-art leisure centre in the castle, and a large number of timeshare properties in the grounds as well as housing for staff.
However, the original developers ran into difficulties in 2008 after extensive remedial work to make the castle wind and water tight had been completed. Workers were laid off and the place has been gathering dust ever since.
In 2009 the company owning the estate was put into administration and bankers HSBC and commercial property consultants GVA Grimley began trying to find buyers. A further rumour is that the new owners now plan to spend nearly double the original £74m budget, making the project even more ambitious than was originally conceived.

Reaction

Numbers of local residents have been working for several months with other interests exploring the possibility of a community acquisition of the estate. Their concerns have been to address the pressing issues of affordable housing and workspace creation, sustainable employment and enterprise stimulation and improved social and care facilities for the local population.
The Breadalbane Development Association (BDA) was recently formed to forward these aims. The BDA chair, Peter Ely, told Comment: “We welcome the news that new investment has been found for development of the Taymouth Castle Estate and are hopeful that we will have the opportunity to share ideas, and work with this new consortium to take forward the agenda we have started to put in place.”

Community Involvement
BDA secretary Cindy Brooke stressed that the association is not driven solely by acquisition of the estate, but to putting into place projects that have been identified by community groups and individuals beneficial to the future needs and aspirations of the local and wider community.
She said: “It is our intention to complement, and not conflict with, the proposed development. Our priority is that the community is involved with it so that there is a shared sense of purpose in future developments for the estate.
“We hope that the new consortium will learn from past failures and will talk to local businesses and community groups about their proposed developments to allay fears over any perceived threats to their legitmate interests.”
Peter Ely added: “The BDA is committed to being a focal point for exchange of community views and development of expertise in social enterprise. We are writing to the new consortium to introduce ourselves, and look forward to the opportunity to meet its representatives in the near future”.

 

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