Future of prime development site uncertain as firm goes into administration
THE developer of a housing site at Killicomaine Road has accused the Ulster Bank of acting “hastily and prematurely” after receivers were appointed.
John Curran’s company Tiffen Developments - of which he is a director - had built over 50 homes at Bachelors Avenue, with another 120 in the pipeline when the bank moved in.
The County Tyrone man said, “I am convinced that, given the opportunity by the bank, we could have worked our way through this and delivered the Ulster a better result than placing the remainder of the site on the market. Over 80 per cent of the banking group - of which the parent company is the Royal Bank of Scotland - is owned by the taxpayers, who will lose in the long run.
“In these days of recession, banks are apt to move too quickly into these sites, and there are examples all over the country - many of them in Portadown - where work has come to a stop and they are left virtually derelict.
“Fair enough, it would have taken time to complete the site as we build in conjunction with demand, but the houses at Bachelors Avenue were selling steadily, and were excellent value at £110,000-£120,000.”
He added that negotiations with the Ulster had been conducted in a professional manner, and Tiffney hoped they would be given a chance to work on at the site. “Our accountants presented what we felt was a viable case and we hoped for the best, but the bank acted hastily and prematurely by calling in the receivers, even though we felt we could deliver a better deal than selling off the assets.
“We worked with the local community from the start, and people want to live in the Killicomaine area. The site is ideally situated and we are very disappointed that we have been placed in administration. At one stage, we employed 150 and these jobs are very valuable. We could have continued with a long-term understanding from the Ulster Bank. We have been in business for almost 30 years and have a good reputation. There is a deep recession at the moment, but it won’t last for ever.”
The bank acted at the end of January - six weeks ago - but a large sign “selling” the properties through Tiffen Developments still dominates the front area of the site, which is fenced off and becoming overgrown at its frontage with the main Killicomaine Road. “The fear is that it will lie that way as is the case in so many sites,” said Mr Curran. “I’m convinced we could have continued and given a better long-term result.”
The firm bought the site for a reported £4.5m at the height of the property boom.
A statement from the Ulster Bank said that all inquiries should be directed to the receivers. The Portadown Times contacted the receivers, but they did not respond.
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