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 But following the proposal by Seven Capital, the Council has today (11 Jan 2017) withdrawn the notice of termination.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.

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.