In the heart of Derby, near to the Cathedral, on St Mary’s Gate, is a Grade II listed building – MIddleton House. It is situated within the City Conservation Area and is a designated heritage asset. By 1901 the County Offices had been built and since then it has been used as offices for a variety of municipal purposes. It is now surplus to Derby City Council’s requirements and is in the process of being sold off and developed into residential apartments.
In September 2017, the Council publicised the fact that contracts had been exchanged with a “specialist East Midland developer” who had a ” track record of a number of high profile acquisitions and working on often challenging development sites.” Cllr Martin Rawson was quoted as saying on the Derby City Council website that “I am delighted to say that we’ve reached an agreement with City and Country Property Management. This developer has a strong reputation and commitment to sensitive redevelopment of these Grade II listed buildings“.
It was also reported that planning permission was expected to be granted within 12 months ( by September 2018).
This has not happened yet and there are strong concerns from planning officers as to the harm that the planned development will have on this heritage building.
Who is the developer?
In January 2018, I wrote an article called “Does the Council actually know who it is selling St Mary’s Gate to…and who will profit from it?”. Some key points from that article:
- The Council website article linked the developer, City and Country Property Management Ltd to a website, which headlined “City & Country is the UK’s leading award-winning heritage developer. From stylish and unique conversion homes to contemporary newly built properties, we offer an inspiring selection to choose from.” Except this company, City and Country Construction Ltd, is nothing to do with the City and Country Property Management Ltd (CCPM) that the Council has contracted with.
- The projects referred to in the CCPM website were not delivered by it. These were delivered by Mabec (Nottingham) Ltd.
- In the Council article, Cllr Rawson is shown shaking hands with Adam Cavell, director of CCPM.
- Until 30 September 2013 this company was known as “Venture Cleaning and Building Services Ltd” – this was owned by Adam Cavell’s mother, with one director, her husband Mark Cavell. Adam didn’t become a director until 10 December 2016.
- Mark Cavell, is registered as the “Person with Signficant Control” in CCPM Ltd. He is also a director of Mabec (Nottingham) which, in 2013, was subject to a cash injection by Tosca Penta Property Limited Partnership. This organisation is wholly owned by Old Oak Holdings Ltd, which in turn is 100% owned by Martin Hughes – a hedge fund manager” with a personal wealth of £365m, and is often referred to, in the City, as “The Rottweiler”.
- The properties developed by Mabec (Nottingham) and which appear on the CCPM Ltd website as its developments, were purchased by a number of Jersey based shell companies, owned by Toscafield Ltd which is 100% owned by the above mentioned Martin Hughes.
So who is actually developing Middleton House, and who is set to profit?
The price has not been disclosed for the sale of the building?
What is the position with the Planning Application?
In May 2018, the Council’s Planning team identified a number of areas of missing information in the application which meant that it was not yet ready for a determination at that point. By February 2019 it was no further advanced; the Planning Officer suggested, as an option, that the Planning Application be withdrawn. A further extension has now been agreed to the end of June 2019.
In the Re-Consultation document, produced by the Council dated, 13 Feb 2019, it stated:
“I note the need to get this building back into use and support the principle of this. However I have concern about how this is being done. If the scheme can be amended to address and remove the elements that are most harmful – this would be beneficial to the building as a Nationally important building.”
“The significance of the building itself, 27 St Mary’s Gate, as a grade II listed building is affected by these proposals as is the City Centre Conservation Area”
“There is a lot of harm as regards the significance of the listed building 27 St Mary’s Gate in terms of direct harm and that of its setting”
“There is missing information on proposed; whether any works to fireplaces/grates, any proposed vents, flues, drainage runs, sound insulation, building regulation requirements for
fire partitioning, damp remedial work proposals so the full impact on the significance of the listed building cannot fully be assessed. However if these items are not part of this
application I suggest that an additional application could be submitted. The main harmful impacts are listed below and I have strong concern about them.” (Planning Officer emphasis)
“In my view there is high and, in my view, an unacceptable level harm to the significance of 27 St Mary’s gate and a number of designated heritage assets (listed above including listed
buildings and the City Conservation Area).
Recommendation: – Strongly object on heritage grounds for the reasons stated above.” (Planning Officer emphasis)
The Director of CCPM Ltd, Adam Cavell, stated that “we have historically specialised in the redevelopment of listed buildings and take pride in restoring dilapidated buildings to their former glory”. This qualification was supported by Cllr Rawson when he was quoted as saying “This developer has a strong reputation and commitment to sensitive redevelopment of these Grade II listed buildings”.
The very issue that they have a “strong reputation” in is the single reason why the planning application is not proceeding at the right pace. The Planning Officer is concerned about the “harm” proposed to a “Nationally Important building”. This does not give much credence to their claim of being “specialists” in the redevelopment of listed buildings.
The above, together with the rather curious corporate and funding structure begs questions as to why Derby City Council has contracted with the little known City and Country Property Management Ltd to re-develop one of the City’s major Heritage assets.
Has anyone in the Council actually done any due diligence into the company that Derby is trusting to preserve this important building?
The City has to thank the professionalism of the Planning Officers on this matter. Derby needs to hope that the lure of the lucrative capital receipts doesn’t make the Council blind to the professional advice that it has been given and consign another Heritage asset to the photographs of Yesteryear.
Categories: Derby City Council