Council considers CPO on stalled £200m New Chinatown scheme

Artist impression of failed Chinatown scheme

Liverpool City Council is considering a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the stalled £200m New Chinatown development site in the city centre, following accusations that the scheme’s Honk Kong sales agent comitted “fraud”.

A report to the council’s cabinet next Friday, July 21 is requesting CPO powers be used – if current developer Chinatown Development Company Ltd, a subsidiary of North Point Global, cannot sell the prominent site to another developer.

In June 2015, Chinatown Development Company Ltd acquired the site, at that time called Tribeca, from Urban Splash and the city council, to create the housing and leisure scheme.

To be delivered over three phases, the scheme was to create a new urban quarter with 790 new homes, 11,246 sqm of commercial and retail floor-space and a 140 bed hotel.

In December 2015, phase one of the scheme was granted detailed planning consent and outline planning consent was given for phase two and three. A 250-year lease on phase one was granted in April 2016.

Since then council says that the sales agent for the company has been accused of fraud in the Hong Kong market, which impacted on sales to the extent that works on site stalled and the building contractor went into administration.

The council said that failure to deliver the scheme had forced it to take action and that following negotiations it has been agreed the site will be marketed over the summer for a new developer to deliver either the consented scheme or an amended scheme.

If that does not happen the city council has threatened to use its CPO powers to assemble the site at Great George Street for redevelopment under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

It added that the CPO for New Chinatown will be conditional on identifying a new developer which is prepared to agree to underwrite the city council’s costs in preparing, submitting and processing the order and funding the acquisitions, including the £950,000 debt that is owed to the city council in relation to the phase 2 site.

Councillor Ann O’Byrne, deputy mayor of Liverpool, said: “Liverpool City Council has been deeply concerned with how events have unravelled with the funding of Chinatown Development Company Ltd’s scheme.

“This report illustrates how hard we have been working to rectify the situation and the lengths we will go to, if necessary, to ensure the site is developed.

“It is vital that a new developer is found to get this scheme – or an amended one – back on track for the good of the China Town area, the city and those who have invested in it.”

The company had been in talks to sell the scheme to Your Housing Group, but the deal recently fell through after five months of negotiations.

North Point Global did not respond to a request for comment.