Posted by: John Brace | 8th July 2019

Wirral Council’s Cabinet decide not to lend developer ~£26 million towards Celtic Manor Resort in Hoylake

Wirral Council’s Cabinet decide not to lend developer ~£26 million towards Celtic Manor Resort in Hoylake

                                      

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Cabinet (Wirral Council) 8th July 2019 Celtic Manor Resort

Cllr Pat Hackett (right) speaking about Celtic Manor Resort at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Cabinet 8th July 2019

Cllr Pat Hackett (right) speaking about Celtic Manor Resort at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Cabinet 8th July 2019

Wirral Council’s Cabinet (as you can watch above) decided not to lend developer Nicklaus Joint Venture Group Limited an estimated £26 million of borrowed money to finance the Celtic Manor Resort scheme (previously called Hoylake Golf Resort).

The project and Wirral Council’s financing of it has been opposed by the opposition parties on Wirral (Conservative, Lib Dem, Green and Independent Group), the local MP for Wirral West Margaret Greenwood, large parts of the Labour Party and local residents with an online petition of over 7,000 opposed to the project.

Councillors explained that they planned instead to use the money for different priorities such as increasing affordable social housing.

The Chair of Wirral Council’s Cabinet Cllr Pat Hackett finished the public meeting by explaining that Wirral was “open for business” and referred to the joint venture with Muse Developments called the Wirral Growth Company which he hoped would move forward developments on the Wirral.

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Responses

  1. That on the surface, is a fairly strong rejection of the previous leaders’ obsession with venture capitalists who do not have any of their own money to invest in the ‘resort’ idea.

    However, that does not mean the Jack Nicklaus Venture Group could not convince another financeer to loan them the £26m necessary to go back to the council and declare the project still viable and press on with the planning application.

    To get to that stage, the JNVG would have to secure the backing, get an advance of monies to complete the necessary studies, go through the planning process and its costs, knowing full well it would likely go to public inquiry, should the plans be approved. If the plans were approved, then they would have to obtain cash to finance the new link road. Than they would have to immediately proceed with the house building and sales to recoup on the advance money, before going ahead with the release of more money for the ‘resort’ part of the development.

    I don’t know how a Phil Davies led council would have distributed the loan money, but we can be damn sure a private investor would not make available all of the cash at once! They would drip feed as necessary and be looking for an early recoup opportunity before letting any more cash out to the JNVG.

    Maybe councils are seen as an ‘easy touch’ by venture capitalists? Maybe they know a council will be an easier creditor than a private individual? Maybe they thought they’d actually get the full £26m float into their working capital account rather than having to ask for it incrementally?

    • Thanks for that comment.

      Well the loan isn’t happening now.

      Any organisation lending the money though (whether public sector or private sector) if due diligence is done correctly would want some guarantees that they would get their money back (for example charges on the land involved) so that for example if the project didn’t go ahead, stalled or the costs of it went up to make it unprofitable the lender would still get something back.

      If a planning application was put in, it would go to Wirral Council’s Planning Committee to decide, who would insist on a site visit and there would be fierce opposition against it (the planning application that is not the site visit).

      You’ve got to also remember that next week there is a special Council meeting on declaring a climate emergency/Celtic Manor Resort too.

      • It would be interesting to see how the ‘Celtic Manor Resort’ in its entirety fits in with the ‘Cool Wirral’ initiative which Phil Davies didn’t shout about very much during his tenure. I don’t really think a new link road fits very well into what the ‘Cool Wirral’ document is promoting! In fact, I have to give credit where it’s due, I really like the ‘Cool Wirral’ initiative but I never heard of it until 2 months ago! Where was it hiding? Why was it hiding?

        • Thanks for your comment thedrumdoctor.

          The Cool Wirral Partnership was previously called the Wirral Climate Change Group, so maybe you do know it but under a different name?

          As to the building of a new link road – if Wirral Council has a policy on the community infrastructure levy by the point any planning application was decided then if the planning application was approved then some of the costs (either in full or in part) should fall on the developer.

          Personally I think Wirral Council should charge CIL levies, however to do that they’d need a policy first.

  2. Why do we have to have all these name changes all the time, its confusing and makes me think its all to do with coning people out of money once again!

    • Thanks for that comment.

      I’m not sure why Wirral Council started calling it the Celtic Manor Resort instead of the Hoylake Golf Resort or the Hoylake International Golf Resort.

      Maybe the developer thought Celtic Manor Resort was better branding?

    • I would also say it was a branding decision to change the name. ‘Hoylake Golf Resort’ had become a toxic brand and inside the corporate mentality (which certainly was alive and kicking in the Phil Davies Cabinet), a re-brand can be seen as ‘blue sky thinking’ in their bubble! It’s the result of believing your own BS and getting away with things for too long. I think most councils and boards of directors suffer the same disease at some point. They’re at the top, they’re on the big bucks, they know best, and we’re just the plebiscite who will be given their say, but ultimately ignored. Best thing to do is treat ‘Celtic Manor Resort’ as the emperor’s new clothes!

      • Thanks for your comment.

        Yes there are downsides to being surrounded by yes men and people that laugh at all your jokes. People then start to believe what people tell them and it can go to their head.

        Hoylake Golf Resort or Hoylake International Golf Resort (or even the proposed housing estate pretending to be a golf resort) wasn’t a good name really to begin with.

        But I get the feeling that where there is money to be made for the private sector, that the private sector will continue with the spin, PR and trying to convince the public it’s a good idea, in the hope that if the public are convinced then the councillors will go along with it too.


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