A £5 million court battle is set to ensue over delays suffered during the restoration of one of Bradford’s landmark buildings.
Aldersgate Estates Limited, the owner of the Grade II Listed Eastbrook Hall in Little Germany, has lodged writs for damages against the Bradford building firm contracted to carry out the work and the Shipley architectural firm that drew up the renovation plans.
It claims that the negligence of both companies, Ham Construction and Robinson Consulting Group, caused the facade of the distinctive former Methodist Hall to become unstable during the construction work.
As the Telegraph & Argus exclusively reported in 2006, the facade then had to be painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt stone-by-stone.
London-based Aldersgate is further claiming that the resulting delay in finishing the scheme meant it suffered a significant financial loss due to the collapse of the housing market between the scheduled completion date of mid-2007 to the actual completion date of autumn 2008. It was opened by Prince Charles in November of that year.
Aldersgate had planned to sell all of the 70 luxury apartments at the converted hall, but the plummeting property markets meant that only 12 were sold with the remainder still in its ownership.
Both Ham Construction and Robinson Consulting Limited have since gone out of business but Aldersgate says it will pursue both firm’s insurers for damages if it is successful in its legal action.
Alan McMahon, one of the directors of Aldersgate Estates Limited, told the Telegraph & Argus: “There was a massive delay to the project which resulted from real negligence. Our claim is on the part of the builder and the engineer jointly as it was their responsibility for undermining the facade without taking proper precautions.
“That led to it being taken down and put back together. There was a delay to the workers and a loss of value to property and the cost of rebuilding the facade. Ham Construction started repairing the facade but went out of business towards the end of 2007, so we finished it and picked up the pieces ourselves, instead of bringing in another contractor. Plainly we did not announce a big mistake at the time, but the fact is the problem was avoidable.
“We hadn’t started apportioning blame because that came out in the wash but when we looked at the decision later we knew it was avoidable.
“W are claiming the cost of the falling property prices over the period caused by the delay. There was a big fall in property prices over the period. The market had been very buoyant in Bradford before then. That is quite a large proportion of our claim and is about £3.4m. The market fell and there was a snowball effect.
“As a company we couldn’t do anything else apart from putting this matter right and the company at the moment is seriously out of pocket.”
The case has been listed to be heard in April by the Technology and Construction Court – a specialist court where contact disputes are resolved.