Construction of a multi-million-pound block of Plymouth waterfront retirement flats is more than a year behind schedule and the contractor brought in to build it has now collapsed into administration.
The charitable Abbeyfield Society, which is behind the eight-storey Mayflower Court tower at Millbay, said it has been hit by “unforeseen circumstances” and construction delays at the stalled development.
It did not elaborate but the building contractor which had been working on the flats, Wales-headquartered WRW Construction, went into administration in July 2021 citing “significant financial stress”.
Despite a £60m pipeline of work, and a reported turnover of £64.2m, WRW’s directors took the decision to put the business into the hands of administrators when they failed to raise sufficient finance.
WRW closed all its sites when the pandemic arrived in 2020 and furloughed many of its workers and took out a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. WRW is now facing a legal claim from employees who have been made redundant.
Meanwhile, the Abbeyfield Society vowed it is committed to completing the Millbay building and said it was working to resolve “issues”.
The company marked the “topping out” of Mayflower Court, an 80-apartment development opposite the Millbay quayside, in November 2019 and envisaged finishing the block by the spring or summer of 2020. But that was before the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK.
The building is still covered in scaffolding and looks little different, in August 2021, than it did in late 2019. In January 2021 Abbeyfield told Business Live the project had been delayed and a new timeline was being worked on.
Seven months later and there has been little discernible progress though Abbeyfield stressed the pile – which will boast a cinema, bar and even roof-top garden – will be completed. It just can’t say when that will be.
A spokesperson from The Abbeyfield Society said: “Delays to the construction process due to unforeseen circumstances have led to regrettable delays in the construction of Mayflower Court.
“We are working hard to resolve these issues and we are still committed to bringing state-of-the-art retirement apartments to the heart of Millbay.
“We continue to work towards developing a new timeline for the projects’ completion, which will help to address the need for affordable housing for the community’s older people.”
Mayflower Court is a joint project between The Abbeyfield Society, English Cities Fund, Homes England, Plymouth City Council and the now in administration WRW Construction. It is part of the vast regeneration of the Millbay area and was expected to create 150 full- and part-time jobs when completed.
When it is finally finished, the Extra Care Scheme will offer tailor-made care packages to residents aged 55-plus, enabling them to live independently as singles and couples, with additional care available 24/7 where required.
The building will also encompass “bariatric-friendly” apartments, for people who are obese, with five specifically equipped with wheelchair users in mind.
All apartments and the common areas will be fully equipped for those affected by dementia, advancing Plymouth’s status as a dementia-friendly city.
With 10 apartments for sale and the remaining 70 available as affordable rentals, the development will offer access to state-of-the-art facilities and on-site amenities, including a rooftop dining area and gardens, a cinema, a bar, and a community café, Abbyfield said. Many of these will be shared spaces, able to be used by individuals and groups from the surrounding area as well as the residents.
Business Live’s South West Business Reporter is William Telford. William has more than a decade’s experience reporting on the business scene in Plymouth and the South West. He is based in Plymouth but covers the entire region.
Stay in touch: BusinessLive newsletters have been re-designed to make them even better. We send morning bulletins straight to your inbox on the latest news, views and opinion in the South West. Get our breaking news alerts and weekly sector reviews too. Sign up now – it’s free and it only takes a minute. To sign up for Business Live’s daily newsletters click here
And visit the Business Live South West LinkedIn page here
The Abbeyfield Society, which will manage the facility, has said it is building relationships with key partners with a view to providing a “multitude of exciting activities and projects” for residents and the wider community.
In keeping with Plymouth’s history, Mayflower Court will also host the city’s famous sculpture of gold bullion, which will be displayed within the public area at the front of the building. Also, star-shaped plaques, each of which is a tribute to a 20th century VIP who arrived in the UK at Millbay Docks, will be built into the building’s exterior walls.