Concerns over Earnshaw Clough development after building firm CPUK goes into administration

WORRIED residents face further misery and uncertainty after building firm Construction Partnership UK (CPUK) went into administration.

Building work on the 36-home Earnshaw Clough development in Mossley has ground to a halt, leaving neighbouring householders wondering when it will be finished.

The development, which has caused a host of issues for long-suffering residents, was scheduled to be completed in August 2019.

But more than two years after work began, it is nowhere near completed.

“When I heard CPUK had gone into administration, I sat back and thought what on earth is going to happen and where do we it leaves us? In a mess I suspect,” explained resident Sue Hall.

“We are two years down the line and the development is a long way from being finished. It could well take another year. The fallout from it will be far reaching.

“Developer House Proud, an investment company, will probably have to put the job out to tender again so that will delay completion further.”

Sue is also concerned about the huge metal wall at the bottom of her garden which was erected to shore up the banking.

After a long and protracted battle with CPUK, in which Tameside Council was involved, a planting scheme to screen the wall was agreed.

Sue worries whether a new builder will proceed with that agreement.

“If we wanted to move, there is no chance we could sell our house with the eyesore at the back, When people come to visit, they cannot believe it,” she said.

The peace of quiet of residents of Earnshaw Clough was shattered when their narrow cul-de-sac was opened to make way for the housing development.

They claimed access to the site was totally unsuitable for heavy building plant as they were stopped from parking on the road as it blocked access.

Residents photographed lorries mounting pavements while road sweepers paid almost daily visits to clear mud and debris from the highway.

And the unstable land required considerable piledriving which disrupted life in the once peaceful neighbourhood.

One shift worker, whose sleep was disrupted during the day, was one of several residents who went on to the site to confront CPUK officials.

Sue continued: “When it was at its worst, I told my husband I had had enough and wanted to move as I couldn’t cope.

“I was not alone and a lot of the neighbours have been at their wits end. What we have been put through has resulted in frayed tempers and arguments in households.

“Nobody should be expected to live in conditions like that. Your home should be a haven where you feel safe. I have lived here since the houses were built and loved it.”

Sue, who claimed their complaints were invariably dismissed and residents had been treated rudely, said: “They ran roughshod over us from the start. It has been awful.

“My husband Dean is in the building trade and he described them as unprofessional.

“Initially there was a feeling of karma because of what CPUK had put us through. We had been treated badly.

“Once I got past that, I felt sorry for those who had purchased houses not knowing when they would be able to move in and to suppliers and contractors who were owed money.”

Sue added she had concerns about CPUK’s viability.

“Twelve months ago I investigated them and found they were very much teetering on the brink so this had been coming for a long time,” she added.

Earnshaw Clough was one of nine live sites shut down by Skelmersdale-based CPUK at the start of coronavirus lockdown to protect employees and sub-contractors.

They appointed administrators Steven Muncaster and Sarah Bell, of Duff and Phelps, following a hearing at Manchester High Court on Friday, April 24.

Mr Muncaster said: “CPUK had come under increasing pressure over the past 12 months due to a combination of factors including an increasingly competitive market and raw material price increases.

“The company exhausted all options in terms of finding a solution to the current financial issues, caused by a combination of problem contracts and bad debts.

“The combined effect of these, coupled with the uncertain outlook for the construction industry in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, has caused a drain on the company’s cash reserves and it had no other option but to appoint administrators.”

As a result of the current and ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the business temporarily ceased to trade, and all staff were placed on furlough leave by the company prior to the administration.

Upon appointment, the joint administrators undertook an urgent review of the financial position of the company, focusing on realising the assets. As part of this process, they have been marketing the business and assets with a view to achieving a sale as a going concern.

However, given the coronavirus pandemic, the lack of any real tangible asset base and the fact that all the live sites had been handed back to the employers, a sale proved challenging.

Mr Muncaster added: “Five employers had served formal determination of the contract in place with CPUK and several others were likely to follow.

“These combined factors brought us to the conclusion on April 29 that unfortunately a going concern sale of the business was not going to be achievable.”

Prior to the administration, the business temporarily ceased to trade, and all staff were placed on furlough leave by the company.

In light of the more recent developments, the joint administrators can no longer make use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and have had to make the difficult decision to make all staff redundant with immediate effect and the staff furloughing that was implemented by the company has now come to an end.

The joint administrators will now be focusing all their attentions in realising the assets of the company for the benefit of the estate.

CPUK had recently managed to build what was probably its strongest order book since its foundation in 2000, worth a total of £98 million.

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