Village homes unfinished as firm goes bust

GRAVE concerns have been raised about the future of a Rothbury housing estate after its developer went into administration.

McInerney Homes has been building the Whitton View estate on the outskirts of the village for the last four years.

But last week KPMG announced that it had been appointed joint administrators to seven companies in the UK arm of McInerney Holdings Plc.

Whitton View is one of a handful of developments which is to be continued, however, and KPMG announced this week that Miller Homes will be taking over the scheme.

At the monthly Rothbury Parish Council meeting, fears were voiced over the future of works that still need to be completed on the site.

Chairman of the council, Peter Dawson, said that drainage problems have been ongoing since work started and deadlines to create a footpath and children’s play area had not been met.

He said: “We are faced with the same situation now as we have been for the last four years.

“One of my favourite sayings is to throw the councillor’s hat out of the window. “I sit here as a member of the public. I am personally not interested whether the company has gone bust, I couldn’t care less.

“There is money put away somewhere in a bond for this development.

“It shouldn’t be beyond their capabilities to say we have got that money, we have got this problem, that money can be used to fix it.

“With the greatest will in the world I cannot see why they can’t do it.”

A bond of £250,000 was left with the National House-Building Council (NHBC) in case any work on the site was not completed.

Northumberland County Council is taking legal action against McInerney and is in the process of drawing on the bond, but the developers lodged an appeal against it.

County councillor for Rothbury, Steven Bridgett, said: “How can you work with a company that is falling to pieces? The county council does not have the bond, the NHBC does. The county council has to make an application for that money, but McInerney are entitled to appeal and they have.

“Until a decision is issued by NHBC, they will not realise the money.

“I have absolutely no doubt that it will end up in court, probably with a large legal bill for the taxpayer.”

Coun Dawson added: “There comes a point when the authority has to accept some responsibility to make sure that this work is finished.”

Coun Alan Fendley described the situation as a ‘prevaricate nonsense’.

He added that the parish council had written to the county council on a number of occasions about the problems. The parish council has held meetings in private to discuss the problems.

Coun Robin Murray added that a drain on the main road outside the Whitton View estate had been broken for a long time and, if fixed, would alleviate some of the drainage problems on the site.

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “We are aware of the situation regarding McInerney Homes and have already been in touch with the NHBC, which provided the security bond for the highway and drainage works.

“If necessary we will be seeking to draw down funds from the NHBC bond to enable outstanding remedial works to be carried out.”