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Creditors of cursed castle made to wait

Small businesses left out of pocket for completed work on Taymouth Castle, one of Scotland's most important heritage properties, will have to wait for the developer to sell luxury apartments in Surrey, a spokesman for the troubled project has said.

Despite multiple attempts to turn Taymouth Castle into a luxury escape, the project has never come to fruition
Despite multiple attempts to turn Taymouth Castle into a luxury escape, the project has never come to fruition

Meteor Property Fund, the City investment company which owns the Grade A-listed 1840s castle in Kenmore in Perthshire, said that Farnham Developments Ltd (FDL), the company converting the castle and estate into a luxury Highland resort, had been forced into a CVA due to "cash flow problems" as well as unforeseen extra costs to shore up estate roads and bridges. A CVA, or company voluntary arrangement, is an agreement with creditors to stave off liquidation.

FDL is expecting to receive between £6 million and £7m for the sale of units at Moor Park House in Farnham in Surrey, another luxury development in the grounds of an historic property.

The spokesman said: "Further cash investment into the Taymouth project will be made from money released by the sale of the [Surrey] homes that has been undertaken by the Fund. Sales of properties at this completed project, which have taken longer than anticipated, are being injected into the Taymouth project."

According to particulars from property agency Savills, which is handling the Farnham properties, so far three out of 13 apartments on the still-incomplete development have been sold.

While development of Taymouth has local support, the project has faced recurrent financial problems, which have repeatedly led to losses for local contractors and workers.

A spokesman for Meteor said: "FDL has had the support of the majority of its creditors. It is being forced to enter into a CVA in order to provide it with the time and protection it needs while the funding is being released so it can achieve its primary aim – the payment of all of its creditors in full.

"It is appreciated that this has created difficulties for some of the subcontractors and local companies working on the project for which we apologise, but we are confident that the situation will be resolved and payment made to all creditors. We are all working hard to ensure that this happens as quickly as possible."

He stressed that Meteor remains "fully committed to this important project, in which it has already invested over £20m".

As well as FDL's difficulties, Meteor cited "a change in investment policy of one of the major pension fund investors", but declined to provide further details.

Kenmore community leaders have said that a number of local businesses are affected,

FDL's director Clynt Wellington, along with his second cousin John French, led an earlier plan to develop Taymouth that went into administration 2009, leaving a trail of unpaid debts.

Meteor has declined to say how much was owed to how many creditors on this occasion, describing that as "a private matter".

In the meantime, work is still continuing on the conversion of the castle, the former seat of the Campbells of Breadalbane. Planning permission was granted in June 2011 for its conversion into a 30-bedroom hotel, with an intended 160 luxury homes in its 450-acre estate.

So far only one home has been completed while award-winning restoration work has been carried out on one of Britain's most spectacular neo-Gothic country house interiors, designed by Augustus Pugin.

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