Urgent talks sought on future of stricken Midas’ £22m Plymouth housing scheme

A Plymouth city councillor has asked for an urgent meeting with council chiefs to review the £22m rebuild of the Barne Barton estate after shock news that construction giant Midas Group Plc is in financial trouble.

St Budeaux councillor Sally Haydon (Labour) said residents are concerned about the future of the long-awaited housing scheme and wants Plymouth City Council to ensure the rebuild of ex-naval housing goes ahead.

The project now faces uncertainty after Midas Group, one of the UK’s largest privately-owned construction and property services companies, confirmed it wants to appoint an administrator.

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The UK’s largest provider of affordable housing, Clarion Housing Group, is transforming the Barne Barton area into a “sustainable and vibrant community” and Midas was selected to develop the 4.65-hectare site within the neighbourhood via its Mi-space (UK) Ltd housing company.

But Midas has filed notices of intention to appoint an administrator for three companies: Midas Group, its construction arm Midas Construction, and Mi-Space.

Cllr Haydon, who has represented the St Budeaux ward since 2006, said: “I am asking for an urgent meeting with the council and will fight tooth and nail to make sure this development happens.

“It is impossible to underestimate how much people in Barne Barton need this development to go ahead as planned. I am on Clarion Housing’s Residents’ Board and will be working with them to make sure they are supported to achieve this project.

“The news of Midas going into administration has been a real shock to people who have been waiting for years for their promised new homes.”

Cllr Haydon will be holding a street stall in St Budeaux Square on Saturday, February 5, at 1pm and said: “I will be there for a couple of hours so any residents with worries or concerns can come and have a chat with me, I am here to support them 100%.”

The vision for a redeveloped Barne Barton, in Plymouth

Among Barne Barton residents who have already raised concerns about the future of the redevelopment are Kelley and Mark Tamblin. The couple have been waiting for more than four years to see work start on the development which they hope will eventually be their home.

“It is extremely worrying that the build seems to be in jeopardy,” said Mrs Tamblin. “We need some urgent reassurance from the council that Clarion will still receive the support it needs to make sure the development happens.”

Midas was recently ranked as the ninth largest private sector firm in the South West, by the Western Morning News, with a reported turnover of £291,267,008 and 498 employees.

But rumours had been circulating in recent weeks that the company was in financial trouble, after it announced a £2m loss in 2021 – its first deficit in 40 years of trading.

The company has important construction jobs ongoing throughout the region and has offices in Indian Queens in Cornwall, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Bristol, Newport in South Wales and Southampton.

Midas has now confirmed its intention to appoint an administrator – a process which can save a firm from liquidation and halts pending creditor action.

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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.

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But the company stressed this does not mean that Midas has entered into administration and the company continues to operate, while directors work to explore “all available options to achieve the best outcome for the business and our people, our customers, supply chain partners and all our stakeholders”.

In 2021, Midas blamed much of its losses on the Covid pandemic and it has also added ongoing shortages of materials and labour, and significant cost inflation, which it said are providing challenges in the construction sector and across the UK, and which have had a direct impact on Midas’s operations.

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William TelfordBusiness Editor, Plymouth Live