UK Coal upbeat over Bolton business park status

UK Coal, the mining and property group in which Peel Holdings billionaire John Whittaker has a 24.5% stake, reaffirmed its commitment to building a large business park in Bolton in the next decade as it reported mixed first half results.

The 1,000-acre Cutacre site at Junction 4 of the M61 is currently undergoing surface mining. When the mining completes in 2013, part of the land will be used for a business park of up to 260 acres. There is already planning permission for light industrial space on 60 acres.

UK Coal said in a statement to the stock exchange today: "At Cutacre, Bolton, our major premium business park proposal, on part of the current surface mining project, has been identified as the council's preferred option for its employment site in the Local Development Framework."

The group is looking to unlock the potential of its 48,000-acre property portfolio, mainly concentrated in the North and Yorkshire in particular.

Several sites fall within the Government's Housing Growth Point areas and UK Coal is pursuing joint ventures to deliver mixed-use schemes with developers including Gazeley, Graftongate and Helical Governetz.

The group's property arm, Harworth Estates, delivered profits in the first half of 2008 of £20.5m, compared to £54.0m in the 12 months to the end of last year.

Group revenue rose by 18% to £172.9m in the six months to 30 June compared to £146.2m in the same period last year.

A RICS like-for-like valuation of its property portfolio showed a 5% gain to £438.4m, against £410.7m in December 2007.

The first half produced a pre-tax loss of £9.9m compared to a £40.6m profit in the first half of 2007, due to different mining schedules and a dip in value for some non-cash property assets.

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