Flaxby: Skelwith Leisure’s £19million tax bill

A golfer at Flaxby Park Golf and Country Club.
A golfer at Flaxby Park Golf and Country Club.

The firm behind plans to build an entire new town at Flaxby golf course owe £19million to the tax man, it has emerged.

Skelwith Leisure was placed into provisional liquidation last month and it has now emerged that a petition to wind up the company was first presented to a court on July 6.

A spokesperson for Baker Tilly, the appointed liquidators, confirmed the firm’s hefty tax bill.

They said: “Skelwith Leisure Limited owes £19million in VAT. HMRC applied for the appointment of Provisional Liquidators on July 16 2015 following a petition presented to Court to wind up the company on July 6 2015.”

This comes a week after the company, a subsidiary of the Skelwith Group, faced the farming family who sold the golf course to the developer in the High Court at London.

The court heard that the Armstrong family sold Skelwith Leisure Flaxby Golf Course in 2008 for £7million after it proposed to take the facility ‘upmarket’ with plans for a 300 bed five star hotel.

Flaxby Country Resort was touted to become the jewel in Yorkshire’s tourism crown with lofty ambitions to host the Ryder Cup. It attracted a large number of investors including former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan and land registry documents show that 158 hotel rooms were sold off plan.

However in November 2014 Skelwith Leisure abandoned this idea and announced plans to build a new ‘village’ of up to 2,500 homes complete with primary school, shops, and a smaller hotel.

Mark Warwick QC, for 80-year-old Alan Armstrong and his family, told the High Court that his clients have now “lost all confidence” in Skelwith Leisure’s ambitions or ability to repay after the firm missed capital repayments.

The Armstrongs are now seeking to develop the land through another venture project and a summary judgement on the case is expected in October 2015.

Another subsidiary of the Skelwith Group, Skelwith Leisure (Raithwaite), which owns and operates Raithwaite Hall, between Sandsend and Whitby, was placed into the hands of two administrators at KPMG last month.

It is understood that Depa, a furnishings firm based in Dubai who were involved in the design of Raithwaite Hall, have also applied for a winding-up order, and that the case will be heard at Leeds County Court on September 8.

KPMG, administrators for Skelwith Leisure (Raithwaite), said the luxury hotel a short walk from the cliff-tops of Sandsend was “continuing to trade under the control of the joint administrators whilst a buyer is sought”.

The Skelwith Group have declined to comment but previously blamed the costs of a legal dispute over the ownership of the land at Flaxby Golf Course as the reason it entered liquidation and said the move would have no impact on its plans to build 2,300 homes which it put to Harrogate Borough Council’s planning department in June.