Acting as administrator, Duff & Phelps has reached a landmark in the development of the Backbarrow Ironworks site in the Lake District into 43 homes.
D&P was initially appointed as receiver on the project in 2015, subsequently being made administrators in 2017 by Investec, which had originally been the main funder for the scheme. Work had stalled on Reno Global’s development in 2007, with two live-work blocks partially delivered, along with two office buildings.
Joint administrator Sarah Bell said: “When we were appointed, it was in a perilous state. Many local residents were unhappy that the site had not progressed in years, but the project faced a number of challenges, limiting the amount of value that could be gained.”
One such difficulty was the presence on site of a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a blast furnace built in 1711 believed to be the only remaining example of its type. On the Heritage At Risk register, the SAM required a £700,000 project to restore and re-present it.
Work on and around the monument started in May 2017 and is almost complete. Work on the open-market apartments began in February this year and is due for completion in May 2019. Barnfield Construction is the contractor.
Place reported in 2016 that the office blocks included in the original scheme were to be removed, giving greater prominence to the ironworks and allowing for more landscaping, as the resumption of work was given the go-ahead by the Lake District National Park Authority. Works include new footpaths through the site to better connect it with the rest of the village.
D&P said that the cost of the monument repair had made it harder to market the site to developers, leading the business, advised by Indigo Planning, to propose to the council that it would take on that cost, with the council for its part reviewing planning and sales restrictions. The furnace is to be transferred to a community trust on completion.
Bell added: “This project is a fantastic example of how a modern development can sit comfortably alongside a dedicated restoration of a national monument. It’s rare that we can really say everyone’s a winner, but in this case the community has seen a dilapidated eyesore transformed into a development designed in the local style, investors have seen a near-failure turned around and a precious monument has been saved.”