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Sutton Harbour rejects lease breach allegations from Plymouth council

Fri, 02nd Feb 2024 13:51

(Alliance News) - Sutton Harbour Group PLC on Friday responded to a statement by Plymouth City Council, saying it "categorically rejects" allegations of lease breaches on a former airport site.

The Plymouth, England-based waterfront regeneration specialist acquired Plymouth City Airport Ltd, the leaseholder of the former Plymouth City Airport site or FAS, in 2000.

Sutton Harbour said the airport was closed in 2011, after the council accepted the notice of non-viability regarding the site. In 2019, the company said government planning inspectors agreed that development of the site for non-aviation uses should be postponed for up to five years. This would allow time to bring forward a viable aviation proposal if possible.

Sutton Harbour said that "since 2011 the company has managed and safeguarded the FAS at its own expense, all with the agreement and to the full knowledge of the council." It claims that its total net cash expenditure on the site amounts to over GBP27 million since the acquisition, and that the council has prevented it from earning revenue from the FAS through temporary activities during this time.

Sutton Harbour said it has been working on a pre-submission planning process, and "expects to submit a masterplan for a phased development of the FAS to the the coming weeks". The first phase of the three-part masterplan "will preserve the main runway...but will propose development for institutional, business and housing development on other areas of the site". After three to five years, the runway would be gradually reduced "should a financially viable aviation proposition not materialise".

On Thursday last week, however, Sutton Harbour confirmed receipt of a letter from the council on January 19 alleging breach of lease convenants in relation to the airport.

On Friday, Sutton Harbour responded that it "categorically rejects the allegations of breaches of the lease", adding that "PCAL has, at considerable expense, at all times complied, and will continue to comply, with the covenants in the lease" and maintaining its "openness and willingness to engage with the council".

"Furthermore, the company has at all appropriate times taken legal advice regarding PCAL's and its own position with regard to the FAS," Sutton Harbour continued, "and is prepared to robustly defend its PCAL leasehold interest in the FAS should it need to do so."

Shares in Sutton Harbour were trading 4.2% higher at 11.98 pence in London on Friday afternoon.

By Emma Curzon, Alliance News reporter

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