Moirai Capital sacked in Swindon

“Ambitious plans to build a ski slope, an arena and hotel on the North Star site have been given a last minute reprieve with the involvement of Seven Capital Investments. In December [2016], development firm Moirai Capital was served with notice that Swindon Borough Council intended to call time on the project after repeated delays and unfulfilled commitments.

Seven Capital Investments Ltd, which is also one of the UK’s leading private capital funders, has agreed in principle to acquire control of Moirai Capital Investments in order to take forward plans to transform North Star with more than £100m of investment.

Currently managing a development portfolio of more than £800 million, Seven Capital has been responsible for major property investments across the country and has identified the North Star development as an ideal opportunity for it to invest in the leisure market.

Seven Capital’s interest in the regeneration project comes after the Council served Moirai notice of its intention to terminate the development agreement covering the former Clares site, which had been earmarked for an indoor ski slope, water park, hotel and other leisure and sports-related retail.

Moirai was given until 12 January 2017 to fulfil the terms of the notice or see the development agreement terminated. But following the proposal by Seven Capital, the Council has today (11 Jan 2017) withdrawn the notice of termination.

The plans for the North Star development include a cinema, 5,000-seat entertainment arena, ski centre, range of leisure activities, restaurants and cafes, retail space and a hotel.

A period of due diligence will now be carried out by both the Council and Seven Capital which, if successful, will see the Council’s Cabinet consider whether to approve the proposal.

Seven Capital has indicated it would also work with Moirai on the Oasis site.

If Seven Capital’s proposals are supported by Cabinet, detailed planning proposals could be submitted later this year.”

Bay FM interview: Skinner (EDDC) v MacAllister (SES)

Louise MacAllister, Spokesperson, Save Exmouth Seafront gives her view on the contest. Owl will be happy to publish Councillor Skinner’s riposte if received:

  • SES’s core aim is for independent public consultation before any further work goes ahead on the seafront.
  • EDDC’s consultations have been inadequate.
  • Cllr Megan Armstrong’s survey that SES supported showed that a majority do not want to see wholesale development on the seafront.
  • EDDC’s incompetence around the project has led to the seafront becoming derelict.
  • The spiralling costs of the project further demonstrate the incompetence of the Exmouth Regeneration Board.
  • That the Regeneration Board meet in secret only increases frustration and as such Ms MacAllister has been trying to arrange a Q&A session with Cllr Skinner, the chair of the Exmouth Regeneration Board.
  • Cllr Skinner gatecrashed a SES meeting, this is not public engagement.

Cllr Skinner, Chair, Exmouth Regeneration Board:

  • It is a three-phase development, it’s very exciting, we should be excited!
  • Phase three is ‘open for consultation’ we may even have a hotel?!
  • Existing tenants are blamed for delays.
  • Skinner thinks they have consulted extensively but – he doesn’t know the numbers.
  • This is a SERIOUS investment (thank god it’s not a joke investment!).
  • Correction – the ‘recent consultation’ with over 1000 participants that Howard Witts mentioned is in fact the seafront survey undertaken by independent Cllr Megan Armstrong, and which the regeneration board have resolutely ignored.
  • [Seems Skinner finds it amusing that the regeneration board meets in secret as he can be heard laughing while Howard is asking him about this].
  • The Premier Inn and Ocean are apparently architecturally superior and successful, ‘raising the bar in architecture’.

Other points:

  • Everything Skinner claims about his gatecrashing of an SES meeting is untrue, he was unwelcome and people made it clear he was unwelcome. Unfortunately the meeting was not chaired well and so he was enabled to carry on despite this. He was certainly not thanked or clapped as he claims in the interview.
  • The post-march SES meeting was not an open public meeting nor was it advertised as such, it was advertised as a meeting for SES supporters.
  • Cllr Skinner does not think it is Ms MacAllister’s responsibility as SES spokesperson to say that he should hold an open public meeting. SHE AGREES! It is HIS responsibility and he alone should be held accountable for his lack of public engagement she says. As someone who represents a group seeking transparency and openness she will continue to press for this even though it is not her responsibility.

Listen to Louise MacAllister

Listen to Cllr Skinner’s Response

The Swindon connection: Torquay United, Gaming International – and Moirai Capital

Owl sees that south Devon football team Torquay United have been taken over by Gaming International, a Swindon-based company thought to be keen to extract value from the development of their ground, Plainmoor. The freehold is owned by the local authority.

Moirai Capital of Exmouth fame/notoriety are also Swindon based. And have some interesting links with Gaming International, including the ill-fated Milton Keynes Bowl:

It’s been a tough time for Torquay fans recently … and they have their worries about their new owners:

“Torquay supporters are aware of Gaming International’s record at Reading and Swindon with respect to stadium redevelopment. There have been several online discussions amongst our supporters, the most recent being:



and a fan notes:

The man behind this company Clarke Osborne has now set up a new company “Riviera Stadium Limited”.

Gaming International Limited was once known as Bristol Stadium PLC.

Clarke Osborne was a director of Bristol Stadium PLC when Bristol Rovers could no longer afford to pay them the rent in 1986. Rovers were forced to play in exile in Bath for ten years.

Osborne was Chief Executive of Bristol Stadium PLC when Eastville was sold to Ikea for £19m. There were promises that a new greyhound site would be found in Bristol – but it did not happen. I think Reading has suffered a similar fate.

I am sure that the new owners will lend the football club enough money to keep those fans who don’t look beyond the end of their nose happy for a couple of years. My fear is that the day will come when they will want everything they lend back plus a return on investment. They are not fans and they are not a charity.”

but surely such illustrious connections can only make things, er, better?

According to BBC website:

“There has been talk of the club leaving their Plainmoor home for a new ground on the outskirts of the town, a plan which the Torquay United Supporters’ Trust has questioned.

“With GI, our biggest concern is that they are a property developer, they have very little interest in football apparently and they have very little connection with Torquay as a place,” TUST spokesman Alan Robinson told BBC Sport.

Might we see Gaming International in Exmouth some time soon? Stranger things, much stranger things, have happened!

Laura Freeman’s speech at the Exmouth seafront march – Skinner where are you?

““In April this year, just over 4,500 Exmouth people voted yes in a Town Poll. We voted yes for independent, public consultation. This means that we told East Devon District Council – and anyone else listening – that we want to have a say in what happens on our seafront.

“We came out in huge numbers, despite none of the usual help that comes with a general or council election. We came out despite the fact that polling stations were only open for a very, small space of time. Some of us even went out prior to voting, to stand around town – in all weathers – to tell people about the poll, as many people didn’t even know what was going on.

“And what’s happened since the poll in April? Nothing. Why are we being ignored? Ignored by the very people we elect. Well, that’s just not good enough. Today, we have sent a message to East Devon District Council. We have said “We will not be ignored. Our views are important.” East Devon District Council, you need to listen to us.

“We live here. We work here. Some of us will have grown up in this town like generations before, and others will have moved here for a better life or opportunity. When people feel they are being ignored, they shout louder. And that’s what we are doing here today. We are shouting louder!

“Now for those who don’t know, there is a group of people at East Devon District Council who are responsible for the development of this site on the seafront. They are the ‘Exmouth Regeneration Board’. The Chair of this board is Councillor Philip Skinner. We asked Councillor Skinner to come today, along with all East Devon District Councillors and all Exmouth Town Councillors.

“Now, we’ve asked Councillor Skinner to meet with the public before, but this has proven a very tricky task. Actually, we’ve been asking him for months. But he just cannot seem to find any time for meeting with the public. Though, we will still keep trying!

“Councillor Skinner, we hope that you – as someone who can influence something that affects our lives so much – will still come and meet with the people of Exmouth, to answer questions we have, and discuss our ideas and concerns. But with the demolition of assets, closing of businesses and loss of jobs, I’m sure everyone here today will all agree with me, that this meeting with Councillor Skinner must happen soon. There is urgency in this situation.

“So, thank you all for coming here today, standing side-by-side with other members of your community.

“We have shown East Devon District Council that we will take to the streets when they refuse to listen to us through official platforms.

“In a few weeks’ times, on Thursday, December 1, we are having an SES meeting at 7.30pm in the Harbour View Cafe. I really hope many of you will be there. I know that together we can create some great ideas to sort through this situation, and help to protect, as well as enhance, this town we call home.

“Oh, and before I finish, please show your support for the businesses still trading on the proposed development site, The Crazy Golf Course is open today, so go and have a play! And also pop along to the Harbour View Cafe for a nice hot cup of tea and cake! Thank you so much!”

Well done, Laura!

Exmouth seafront demonstration: video

Just in case EDDC or a local newspaper tries to give the impression of only a handful of protesters today, here is a video which disproves it.

and here:

Exmouth overspend and its worrying ramifications

See agenda item 16 – pages 81 – 91 of papers for next Cabinet meeting on 9 November:

Of particular note:

· The budget estimate rising from £1.5m to £3.12m

· As per 2.1 and 2.2 – a planning application for phases 2 and 3 is being submitted, as a ‘technical exercise’ to sustain the planning application (as the outline would be due to expire). [Is this allowed?]

· As quoted on page 84 ‘The planning authority will seek responses from the public to the planning application but the Council itself is not proposing to go beyond this with additional consultation for this technical exercise’.

· Consultation is then mentioned as coming after the technical exercise, in language used to imply consultation will be thorough (despite missing the important issue of consultation needing to happen before decisions are made!).

· Having told the tenants of the Harbour View (in a public meeting) that the Harbour View will be considered a separate application, and framing it to sound altruistic and caring of them, they now state that the Regeneration board has considered marketing the Harbour View site BEFORE the rest of the site in recognition of its value!”

… Loads more in there, makes awful reading.

Click to access 091116combinedcabagenda-sm.pdf

Exmouth/ EDDC: more of our money down the drain

“A report has highlighted that costs for Exmouth’s Queen’s Drive project have now more than doubled – from £1.5 million to £3.1 million.

The figures come as East Devon District Council (EDDC) continue looking for “fresh ideas” for the biggest chunk of the nine-acre development site – after sacking the previous developer, Moirai, over the summer.

They say they will be consulting with residents, businesses and tourists for this ‘third phase’ of the Queen’s Drive site in Exmouth.

Exmouth Splat – how do we get from here to there?

Freedom of Information request and (non) answer

[Exmouth] Watersports centre
Date submitted: 18 October 2016
Summary of request

“Please can you tell me, how will the proposed watersports centre on Exmouth seafront gain access to the sea?

Will there be a water channel bulldozed across the beach from where the existing road is right up to the waters edge?

Will the proposal effectively slice the beach into two sections separated by water?

What engineering assessment has been prepared of the effects of any such channel or watery access on the currents, wave action and ensuing changes to sediment/sand erosions and depositions?

Summary of response

No formal planning application has been received for the development you refer to and no information is currently held which provides answers to the questions you have raised.”

Date responded: 19 October 2016

The ” Exmouth Splash”special song, dedicated to Andrew Moulding and Philip Skinner

Talking Heads, “Road to Nowhere”:

“Road To Nowhere”

Well we know where we’re goin’
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowin’
But we can’t say what we’ve seen
And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out

We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride

I’m feelin’ okay this mornin’
And you know,
We’re on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go


Maybe you wonder where you are
I don’t care
Here is where time is on our side
Take you there…take you there

We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere

There’s a city in my mind
Come along and take that ride
and it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

And it’s very far away
But it’s growing day by day
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

They can tell you what to do
But they’ll make a fool of you
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right
We’re on a road to nowhere.”

Transcript of Councillor Andrew Moulding’s attempt to explain development on Exmouth Seafront to Simon Bates on BBC radio

Owl’s summary of Moulding’s attempt to explain EDDC’s current “thinking”:

We have been planning Exmouth Sea Front for 6 years and we know exactly what we are doing, even though our preferred bidder Moirai has only got initial ideas and we haven’t yet decided what Phase 3 will consist of or how much it will all cost. And it’s going to be completely built up yet very open – and sand drifts are exactly what everyone wants.”

The interview transcript:

“Simon Bates: In Exmouth a group of badgers are thought to be living near a former crazy golf course on the sea front, and they’re involved in a completely different type of dispute. At stake is the proposed multi-million pound development of the area, seen as crucial for Exmouth by East Devon District Council, but viewed by some locals as a terrible mistake for the town.

In the maelstrom, in the middle of it, trying to keep the peace is Adrian Campbell. Good morning Adrian. … What’s going on?

Adrian Campbell: Well, badgers and crazy golf – it does sound a bit peculiar I agree. On Queen’s Drive on the sea front in Exmouth the district council has plans for a quite a big development there. It’s close to the former crazy golf area. There’s also an amusement arcade nearby, and an old railway carriage cafe used to be there.

Now some of these have already gone, they’ve been fenced off, big changes are planned for an idea originally called Exmouth Splash. There’s been consultation about that before. They want to develop this area. Its close to another development that has already taken place known as Ocean, which is a big bowling area that has been built on the sea front just down from the Premier Inn.

However, on this site are badgers, and local people say that they believe that they were under the crazy golf course. That seems to have been confirmed – not so many of them, as there is a bigger sett further off the site.

We spoke to Louise McAllister from Save Exmouth Seafront…

Louise MacAllister: It was alerted to me by a local resident that there were badgers living in this site up until very recently. So I was a little bit concerned that they had already gone ahead with the demolition, because you have to apply for a license to interfere with a sett, and I am just a little bit worried that East Devon District Council have not had the time to do that.

Simon Bates: Can we talk about East Devon District Council because this sounds like a labyrinthine one, let alone about the sett. What did they tell you?

Adrian Campbell: Well they have confirmed that they have, first of all, found out using an expert, Dr. Julian Brown, that there are two small setts, part of a more significant complex badger sett off the site. However, this is important, they say that they have been working with Natural England and they’ve been given a license to relocated them to a larger sett. And they say, basically, that the work that has been done so far won’t have caused any problem and is perfectly OK. So that is what they are saying, but you have this larger issue, much larger issue, about what’s going to happen in the area and lots of controversy about that.

Simon Bates: Yes. That is a story I hadn’t thought of. Because where do you put badgers, because they don’t automatically go into other badger setts because that is a confrontation situation.

Adrian Campbell: Well they wouldn’t go far apparently. They would go just to the bigger sett nearby, but off the site. That’s what they said.

Simon Bates: But would that be OK with those badgers that already occupy the bigger sett.

Adrian Campbell: I don’t know. I’m not a badger expert.

Simon Bates: No, neither am I. But you know what dogs are like, and basically that’s what we are talking about.

Adrian Campbell: I was just going to say, presumably under the advice of Natural England, it should be OK. But then you’ve got this larger issue about this whole area and the big changes that are being proposed. And, some people have asked about modernising this area.

Effectively, there is a boating lake there with swans on it. It’s a very traditional seaside kind of scene at the moment, or it has been, and what is talked about here is a really big change. Now some people are quite keen on that – other people are slightly concerned about it. We spoke to one gentleman, Robin Rule, and is what he was saying.

Robin Rule: Our main priorities now are to try to preserve the boating lake and the fun park. Because the boating lake and the fun park is in fact the face, the face, of Exmouth Seafront. Millions of people love it, whether you live here, whether you are visiting it from holiday or around. That’s what we want to try to hold onto.

Simon Bates: Its the traditional against the future, isn’t it. The swans on the boating lake – I suppose you can call iconic. And then there are the other attractions that have been there for donkeys years vs. the new face of the seafront, the bowling centre you talked about, the Exmouth Ocean. Which vision do you think will win out?

Adrian Campbell: Well when you look at the plans, and I am looking at a plan that goes back to 2013, a big graphic showing what is proposed. Now the council has told me that it has changed quite a lot, but it’s a really large site. Some have told me locally it would be similar in size to the town centre of Exmouth, but right on the seafront. Now some people are a bit concerned about that, and you will hear from the council in a minute. We spoke to an independent councillor, Megan Armstrong, she’s quite worked up about it.

Cllr Megan Armstrong: What concerns people is that as soon as one building goes up it’s setting the scene for a whole more other buildings going up. And people just don’t want that. They like the openness, they like the facilities that are here because children love them, families love them, and they’re reasonably priced because a lot of people who come here don’t have a lot of money, and they’re families with children, at that’s why we get a lot of people coming here.

Simon Bates: Well, there’s the independent councillor Megan Armstrong. We’ve got, as you’ve hinted there Adrian, Cllr Andrew Moulding.

Good morning Cllr Moulding. Deputy Leader of East Devon District Council.

Adrian Campbell: Cllr, Good Morning. You’ve heard the reaction of some of the people there that we have spoken to. First of all, with the badgers, has the council got it right?

Cllr Andrew Moulding: Well, I heard your report, Adrian, on the situation with the badgers which is exactly as you stated. The council has a license from Natural England and during this sensitive process that is what we have to have. We have, and again you are quite right, we have a badger expert. He’s a leading consultant on badgers in the country, and that is Dr. Julian Brown. He’s identified that these two small setts are part of a more significant complex badger sett which is off the site, and in consultation with Dr Brown, the badgers who are living in these two small badger setts can quite amicably be relocated to the larger sett. And that’s what under the advice of Dr Brown and with the license from Natural England, that is what the council are carrying out.

Adrian Campbell: But what about the scale of this? Because people are saying in the area, people that we spoke to yesterday, and admittedly though a self-selecting group who turned up, but they are talking about the scale of this. I mean, how many millions is this going to cost, and how big is phase one, two and three?

Cllr Andrew Moulding: We don’t know the overall cost of this yet. What we do know is that we have put the project into three phases. The first phase is to relocate the road and the car park, so that the car park is further to the rear of the site and not inhibiting the views across the estuary. Similarly with the road. That will allow access to visitors and residents to the sea front. That will be stage one.

Stage two will be a very exciting water sports centre, built on the …

Adrian Campbell: It’s big isn’t it? It’s going to be very big?

Cllr Andrew Moulding: Oh yes, it’s pretty big, yes. It will, but it will encompass a water sports centre for people who are doing kite-surfing and so on, but also there will be an open-air performance space there, a number of small units that trade in water sports. So the attraction of water sports to Exmouth has always been well known. We already have national competitions at Exmouth and we obviously feel that this is something that will be well appreciated by visitors and locals alike.

Adrian Campbell: But just briefly, do you understand the concerns of local people who are saying that the scale of this dwarfs what has been there in the past traditionally. You’ve got the bowling centre down the road – they say that the council’s taken that on because it wasn’t making enough money, I don’t know whether that’s right or not. But they question whether or not there is the demand for all of this. And they also say this is a special area.

Cllr Andrew Moulding: Yes. There would almost be an anchor at each end. So you’ve got Ocean at one end, you’ll have the water sports centre at the other end, inbetween phase three is the development of what was the old fun park – or still is because we are allowing the tenant of the fun park to trade for another season while the details of that part of the site are being developed – so he will carry on and trade there until such time as we need the site to be vacated so that the phase three work can go ahead. That’s still to be determined …

Simon Bates: Actually, can I just jump in there Councillor Moulding because Adrian can’t ask you this, he’s is far too nice a man. It all sounds a bit woolly.

Cllr Andrew Moulding: No not woolly at all. I mean its a plan that’s been in the offing for about the last six years. Now at last it is coming to fruition. And obviously there are stages one needs to go through to arrange the necessary planning details, and so on. That is going through process at the moment. The first phase, as I say, is to relocate the road, move the car park, and then to get the water sports centre built, and then we can look in more detail at phase three which is the remainder of the site. We very much hope that the majority of the area will be open and free to people to use.

Simon Bates: It’s a very exposed site as well, isn’t it Councillor? You’ve got high seas and sand blowing in during the winter.

Cllr Andrew Moulding: That’s the beauty of the site. I mean, that’s what everybody likes about it. That it is …

Simon Bates: Yes, but your going to build up the whole place aren’t you?

Cllr Andrew Moulding: The water sports centre will have open spaces within it. But its a development which has been well planned, we are working with the …

Adrian Campbell: But you haven’t got drawings or architect’s plans yet, have you? And you haven;t got a developer as I understand, so people are saying that the area’s closed off, and they can’t get to it and use it.

Cllr Andrew Moulding: Well, we have the water sports centre, [sniggering heard in background] and we have a preferred developer in place, Moirai, who have come up with some initial proposals. We are looking closely at those to see if it is exactly what is required, we shall look carefully at that as phase three while the tenant is still on site so that the people of Exmouth can enjoy facilities on the site until we are ready to go forward with the next stage.

Simon Bates: Councillor, thank you very much indeed. Adrian, I think that’s all we are going to get, don’t you?

Adrian Campbell: I know. Thank you, Simon.

[Sounds of laughter from Simon Bates]
Simon Bates: Stay across it. Beaver or should I say badger away. Adrian Campbell, thank you very much indeed.”