Aura Hotel Elliot Group
Vermont said it was "disappointed" talks for it to take over Aura fell through

Elliot places three schemes into administration

Chloé Vaughan

The Liverpool-based developer has called in administrators for two projects in Liverpool and one in Manchester, after failing to raise the necessary funding amid a police investigation into its founder.

Elliot Lawless, who denies fraud allegations against him and Nick Kavanagh, the head of regeneration at Liverpool City Council, has said his company Elliot Group has “explored every option available, but in light of the investigation, existing investors were cautious about backing the projects to their conclusion”.

Lawless and Kavanagh were arrested in December on suspicion of fraud, bribery and corruption. The pair were released on conditional bail and no charges have been brought.

Elliot Group said today it has appointed Paul Cooper and David Rubin from accounting firm David Rubin & Partners in London as joint administrators on the three developments.

News of the administrations follows the announcement that developer-contractor Vermont Group was in talks to take over development of the stalled £100m Aura scheme in Liverpool. Vermont was previously on site as main contractor for the 1,000 bedroom student development at the edge of Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter.

Vermont was also a contractor on the 38-storey Infinity tower on Leeds Street in Liverpool, as well as Salford’s 34-storey The Residence – the other two schemes in administration.

A spokesperson for Vermont said: “We have engaged with Elliot Group and its investors directly for over a month now in an attempt to find a solution to enable the works to recommence on the Aura scheme in Liverpool.

“We believed there was a solution that would have seen the development successfully through to practical completion, however this needed the agreement and endorsement of all parties under a revised and transparent funding structure.

“Regrettably, we were unable to agree terms and the necessary security provisions with Elliot Group in respect of Aura and have had no alternative but to withdraw from these discussions.

“The Vermont team are extremely disappointed at this outcome, however we remain committed to assisting all parties in exploring how this project can be completed in due course.”

Lawless said: “As we enter the administration process, we’ll continue to work proactively with investors to explore how we can help them crystallise their investments and get the projects completed.

“They are good schemes in great locations, and I want to see them through. We’ve delivered 100% of all our schemes in the past and I am intent on maintaining that track record.”

At the end of February, Lawless pledged to inject his own funds into the ailing schemes. He said his focus now is on working with the administrator to keep the projects alive.

“It has been a challenge for me dealing with the police investigation, but it’s nothing compared to the fact that hundreds of great workers have lost their jobs and investors’ funds are at risk.”

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