Priors Hall administration: What you need to know

Priors Hall - once described as Britain's biggest buildng site
Priors Hall - once described as Britain's biggest buildng site

Two companies involved in the building of Priors Hall - previously dubbed the UK’s biggest building site - have had formal notices of administration made public.

Corby Developments Limited (previously known as Emash) of Rockingham House, Mitchell Road, Corby, and BeLa Partnership Limited (formerly Bee Bee and Lagan Corby Delivery Limited) of the same address, both had official notices posted in the London Gazette yesterday (October 27) informing the public of the appointment of administrators David Philip Soden and Philip Stephen Bowers of Deloitte.

Priors Hall, in Corby, has about 1,000 homes already built, with plans for 5,000.

The news was first revealed on Wednesday (October 26) in a short statement from the administrators.

They called for new investment, said it was “business as usual” and said that administration was “purely a restructuring of the site operations.”

Companies House lists the directors of BeLa Partnership Limited as Roger Bullimore Smith, James Edwards, Andrew Lake and Balbinder Singh Tattar.

Edwards, Lake and Tattar are also directors of Corby Developments Limited.

The administrators said that Priors Hall Management Limited would continue to operate as normal running the estate services. Three of the directors of this company, also based at Rockingham House (the same address as Corby Developments and BeLa) are Edwards, Lake and Tattar.

BeLa has huge section 106 obligations - a promise to fund public amenities like schools, community centres and parks - at Priors Hall and residents have been concerned that these may not now come to fruition.

A primary school that opened in September was delayed for several years and there are still no shops or fully-equipped play areas for residents, some of whom have lived on the estate for more than five years.

The firm has still not transferred ownership of the community centre building to Corby Borough Council - leaving its future in the hands of the administrators.

It is believed, though, that the administrators are committed to providing the 106 facilities and to the eventual handover of the building.

Former director and public face of BeLa, flamboyant Irishman Alfred Buller, is no longer a director of the company. He resigned from BeLa, Corby Developments Limited, Priors Hall Management Limited and 32 other companies in January 2015. He was made personally bankrupt in February 2015.

BeLa is no stranger to controversy in Corby.

In 2010, when it first began marketing Priors Hall, all its publicity described the new estate as being in Deene, a tiny hamlet nearby. People from Corby accused BeLa of editing the town out of the swish marketing, despite the fact Priors Hall was built on a former quarry used for iron ore for the town’s steelworks.

A company spokesman at the time said that the marketing website was ‘merely a stopgap’. But the current website also barely mentions Corby, referring to Priors Hall as being in Northamptonshire and not even mentioning the name Corby Business Academy, despite referring to the ‘good’ local secondary school.

The whole project hit the skids in 2013 and Alfie Buller called in more finance from an offshore company based in Jersey called Grey Rock.

The Government’s Homes and Communities Agency handed over £5m to Bela in 2013 to kickstart building at the stalled estate.

BeLa also previously owned the Little Stanion estate, which it developed through a subsidiary called Silentpride.

Infrastructure work to complete roads and lighting at Little Stanion stopped in about 2012 when BeLa ran into financial difficulties.

They handed over Little Stanion to a new director of Silentpride in 2013 to repay a debt, leaving Silentpride in control of the as-yet unfinished estate. Then it was revealed that Silentpride could not afford to fulfil BeLa’s section 06 obligations, and had no legal obligation to do so.

Silentpride then went into adminstration, where they remain today.

They applied to Corby Council in August 2015 to vary the section 106 so that the firm would have to provide a lesser contribution to the repayment of money already expended on the primary school, payment towards secondary education, highway works, completion of the open spaces and play areas, provision of playing fields and changing rooms, and construction of a community centre.

Corby Council rejected Silentpride’s application and began legal action to force them to pay up. Then last year the firm submitted a new, improved proposal that would see them provide a proportion of the promised facilities including completion of roads, sewers and streetlights, and the building of a community centre and shops.

A consultation event for people living at Priors Hall to find out more about what BeLa’s administration means for them will be held on Tuesday (November 1) from 10am-12pm and 6pm-8pm at Corby Enterprise Centre.