A holiday park and wedding venue which went into administration two years ago leaving couples in the dark over their wedding days has now been sold. Waterside Cornwall – formerly known as Lakeview – located in Lanivet, fell into administration in early March 2020.
It made 24 people redundant, while nine others had resigned, as the restaurant, bar, event and leisure facilities would not reopen. Administrators said at the time that, without the restructuring, the company would have gone out of business, and as a result, only the holiday lodges at the venue are reopening this season. Concerns were raised at the time over weddings that had already been booked – you can read more about that here.
Now the site has been bought by one of the largest holiday park operators, Park Holidays. The joint administrators and liquidators of the various companies which owned the Waterside resort, Clare Lloyd, Finbarr O’Connell and Colin Hardman, of Smith & Williamson LLP, and Lane Bednash of CMB Partners UK Ltd, said the sale of Waterside follows the implementation of a business plan to stabilise and restructure trading at the property, turning it from a loss-making operation into profitability.
Read more: Man found dead in lake under a ride-on lawnmower at Cornwall holiday park
Ms Lloyd, who led this restructuring assignment, commented: “The restructuring teams at Smith & Williamson and CMB Partners are very happy to have brought about this hugely positive outcome for what was a struggling operation which had previously suffered from lack of investment. This is a great opportunity for the Waterside Resort to fulfil its potential under the new dynamic ownership of Park Holidays as a thriving holiday resort in a beautiful location.”
Mr Bednash commented: “The fact that the resort is arranged as 70 self-contained holiday lodges meant that we could create a viable trading strategy even during the darkest days of the pandemic. Restructuring specialists always have to adapt their approach to business rescues appropriately in the face of whatever financial or structural problems they encounter.”
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The transaction will be of benefit to the creditors of collapsed London Capital & Finance plc (LCF) which held significant investments in the scheme. LCF plunged into administration in 2019 and was under investigation following allegations of mis-selling high-risk bonds as ISAs.
Mr O’Connell said: “The Waterside resort was one of the few substantial assets which the failed London Capital & Finance plc invested in using the monies subscribed by investors into its minibonds. This has been a highly complicated restructuring and I am delighted with the outcome which has been achieved for the benefit of those parties holding security or having creditor claims against the relevant entities.”
Before LCF invested millions in Waterside, the resort was part of a £250m investment plan in UK tourism by a Chinese company. In 2015, Lakeview – as Waterside was called at the time – publicised plans for a luxury holiday complex after Chinese company SinoFortone and the London Group Plc revealed a plan to attract Chinese visitors to the UK.
The redevelopment was due to create “the largest and most desirable private waterside village in Britain”, according to the British-Chinese partnership, and bring visitors from that country flocking to spend their money in Cornwall. In August of that year, both companies signed a memorandum of understanding – which is not legally binding unless the terms of it state so – to create the enterprise called SinoBritish Waterside Villages.
The plan was to purchase of the Lakeview Country Club and rename it Waterside Luxury Village as a “first step with other locations to be announced”. The development was set to include 36 luxurious villas, a state-of-the-art visitor centre, spa, dining facilities and sports venues. There would have also been a five star 105-bedroom hotel, a wide variety of outdoor pursuits, Mandarin-speaking receptionists and tour guides.
Peter Zhang, SinoFortone’s managing director, predicted at the time that hundreds of jobs would be created and that the deal would mean “long-term economic growth for the British and Chinese people”. He also said he was hoping the works would start later in 2015 and be completed by the end of 2017.
He said at the time: “This is the first time China has really invested in the UK tourist economy, and we are looking forward to marketing Lakeview Country Club in China. Cornwall is a very beautiful part of the UK, but it is not known among the Chinese, and I think they will love to come here, which is why we will be promoting Cornwall in China. This will be the beginning of promoting Britain as a tourist destination in China.”
Other similar resorts were planned near London, Edinburgh and in the Lake District.
However, the deal never saw the light of day. Lakeview was sold to new owners and became Waterside. The same year, a dozen projects around the country were announced by the same Chinese company, raising hopes of massive investments in the UK. You can read more about this here.
But only one came to fruition, when SinoFortone purchased the in The Plough at Cadsden, a B&B in the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire, where David Cameron and Chinese president Xi Jinping enjoyed a pint in October 2015.