New bid to complete Plymouth’s stalled waterfront apartment block

The company behind an unfinished block of Plymouth waterfront retirement flats where work stopped two years ago says it has not given up on the multi-million pound project.

The charitable Abbeyfield Society said it is working hard to restart construction on the eight-storey Mayflower Court tower at Millbay.

The building – which will contain a cinema, bar, and a community café – was supposed to be ready by mid-2020 but work stopped when the first Covid pandemic struck and never recommenced.

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In 2021 it was revealed that the building firm engaged to oversee the project, Wales-headquartered WRW Construction, had gone into administration owing creditors, including some Plymouth firms, £30m.

But now the Abbeyfield Society is reassuring Plymouth’s population that it still intends to finish the job and is working on a timeline for Mayflower Court’s completion.

A spokesperson from The Abbeyfield Society said: “Delays to the construction process due to unforeseen circumstances have led to regrettable delays in the construction of Mayflower Court.

“We are working very hard to resume building work and we are still committed to bringing state-of-the-art retirement apartments to the heart of Millbay.

“We continue to work towards developing a new timeline for the project’s completion, which will help to address the need for affordable housing for the community’s older people, and we are keeping all immediate stakeholders in the scheme informed of our progress and intentions.”

The company marked the “topping out” of Mayflower Court, an 83-apartment development opposite the Millbay quayside, in November 2019 and envisaged finishing the block by the spring or summer of 2020. But the building is still covered in scaffolding and looks little different, in January 2022, than it did in late 2019.

Another view of the Abbeyfield Society’s stalled Mayflower Court development in Millbay, Plymouth (Image: William Telford)

Abbeyfield’s annual report and accounts for the year to the end of March 2021 have recently been filed at Companies House and reveal the company made a surplus of £1.3m in 2021, compared to a loss of £10.7m in Covid interrupted 2020. But turnover for the year reduced by £2.8m, or 5.6%, from £50.9m in 2020 to £48.1m. The company has £133.4m of housing assets.

The report also revealed that the Mayflower Court project had been bedevilled by issues involving building firms. The report said: “Our 83-bed development at Plymouth Millbay was suspended as our main contractor struggled to keep subcontractors on site. We are currently reviewing work schedules and costings for the project now that restrictions are easing in the construction industry.”

In 2021 it was revealed that despite a £60m pipeline of work, and a reported turnover of £64.2m, construction firm WRW’s directors took the decision to put the business into the hands of administrators when they failed to raise sufficient finance.

WRW closed all its sites when the pandemic arrived in 2020 and furloughed many of its workers and took out a £5.1m Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

Mayflower Court, in Plymouth, is designed to contain more than 80 retirement flats (Image: William Telford)

But the firm – which had offices in Llanelli, Cardiff and Bristol – then collapsed into administration and made more than 100 people redundant. Its biggest single creditor was alternative lender Thincats, owed £10m. Unsecured creditors of WRW were owed a further £18.3m.

Mayflower Court is a joint project between The Abbeyfield Society, English Cities Fund, Homes England, Plymouth City Council and the now in administration WRW Construction. It is part of the vast regeneration of the Millbay area and was expected to create 150 full- and part-time jobs when completed.

When it is finally finished, the Extra Care Scheme will offer tailor-made care packages to residents aged 55-plus, enabling them to live independently as singles and couples, with additional care available 24/7 where required.

The building will also encompass “bariatric-friendly” apartments, for people who are obese, with five specifically equipped with wheelchair users in mind.

All apartments and the common areas will be fully equipped for those affected by dementia, advancing Plymouth’s status as a dementia-friendly city.

With 10 apartments for sale and the remainder available as affordable rentals, the development will offer access to state-of-the-art facilities and on-site amenities, including a rooftop dining area and gardens, a cinema, a bar, and a community café, Abbyfield said.

Many of these will be shared spaces, able to be used by individuals and groups from the surrounding area as well as the residents.

The Abbeyfield Society, which will manage the facility, has said it is building relationships with key partners with a view to providing a “multitude of exciting activities and projects” for residents and the wider community.

How to contact William Telford and Business Live

Business Live’s South West Business Reporter is William Telford. William has more than a decade’s experience reporting on the business scene in Plymouth and the South West. He is based in Plymouth but covers the entire region.

To contact William: Email: [email protected] – Phone: 01752 293116 – Mob: 07584 594052 – Twitter: @WTelfordHerald – LinkedIn: – Facebook:

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In keeping with Plymouth’s history, Mayflower Court will also host the city’s famous sculpture of gold bullion, which will be displayed within the public area at the front of the building.

Also, star-shaped plaques, each of which is a tribute to a 20th century VIP who arrived in the UK at Millbay Docks, will be built into the building’s exterior walls.

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William TelfordBusiness Editor, Plymouth Live