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  • Fears for £16million care village development after main contractor went bust

    Danielle Thompson

    WORK on a £16m state-of-the-art care village scheme in Birkdale has stopped after its main contractor and developer collapsed into administration on Monday.

    Belong Birkdale, is currently under construction on Oxford Road and is due to open in just six months time.

    But the project came to a sudden halt on Monday when North West construction company, Pochin, went bust throwing the development into turmoil.

    The site is planned to provide high-specification accommodation for over 100 people and will feature a 74-bed village, divided into six households, providing 24-hour care and nursing support.

    In addition, the village will offer 30 one and two bedroom independent living apartments, together with a range of facilities open to the public, including a bistro, hair salon, exercise studio and function rooms.

    Belong Birkdale is the eighth multi-million pound development in the North West for the not-for-profit Belong organisation. However, it was confirmed on Monday, August 5 that administrators from Grant Thornton had been called in to Pochin’s Middlewich-based headquarters.

    Rumours that the company was in trouble surfaced earlier in the day when subcontractors and other staff were turned away from sites in Chester, North Wales and the Birkdale site.

    Belong Villages confirmed its Birkdale site had been secured and closed, though added it had ‘a number of contingency plans in place’.

    Dukes Ward Councillor Ron Watson told the Champion: “This will really be of significant concern to residents in the area and I have made an urgent appeal to the relevant council officers to use what powers Sefton has to secure the site, protect the infrastructure and avoid potential vandalism in the hope that a new developer can finish the project with the absolute minimum of delay.

    “There has been a huge investment both in terms of capital and equipment and it is in everybody’s interests to ensure that these are protected to the fullest possible extent because many of the facilities scheduled to be on offer would have a positive impact on the living opportunities of many people whose needs vary but where most things could be found on the one site.

    “Local residents have been very patient with the amount of disruption and in certain cases structural harm that has been done to their properties.”

    Belong’s chief finance officer, Chris Hughes, said: “It is of course deeply regrettable that a well established firm such as Pochin’s has entered into administration and we sympathise with all those directly and indirectly affected.

    “Belong will now be implementing its contingency plans, developed in readiness for this scenario. We are liaising with the administrators and our priority is to minimise disruption and delays so that we can complete the Birkdale care villages as closely to the original timetable as possible.”

    A spokesperson for Sefton Council declined to comment.


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