Bristol

Firms owed thousands after collapse of troubled Baths development

Bristol North Baths
Image caption The project was initially expected to be finished in October 2013

Scores of businesses have been left out of pocket after the collapse of a multimillion-pound deal to redevelop Bristol North Baths, a report says.

Chatsworth Homes, the firm kicked off the project by the council in November, owes about £500,000 to creditors, according to administrators.

Sums ranging from hundreds to £54,881 are owed to about 70 other firms.

The council said it sympathised with those owed money but could not take on the debt when it took over the project.

The BBC approached Chatsworth Homes for a comment, and received a response from its administrators.

Chatsworth Homes was given five days to quit the site in November after mayor George Ferguson said he had "no faith" in its ability to save the scheme to build flats, a library and health centre on two sites.

Image caption The library, according to the developer, was near completion

In December it emerged that it had gone into administration. Administrator AH Beckingham is investigating the company's affairs to see if any money can be returned to those owed cash.

Andy Beckingham told the BBC they were reviewing all the circumstances of the company's failure but it was a complicated process that would take some time. Once the review was complete, he said they would report directly to creditors.

The baths closed in 2005. Chatsworth Homes received planning permission to redevelop the site in 2008 but work did not begin until 2012. It was paused again in 2014 when the council raised concerns about the quality of the work.

The administrators' report said that "stop and review" process went on for six months, which helped to "destabilise" the management of the project.

Matt Baker, co-director of a plumbing firm owed £53,832 by Chatsworth Homes, told BBC Radio Bristol that both directors had made a loan to the company so it would remain solvent: "As a company we will go on, but personally we have lost £60,000."

A council spokesman said: "Bristol City Council is committed to taking forward the Bristol North Baths project. We sympathise with traders but it is illegal for the council to adopt someone else's debts."

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