LAWYERS FOR Skelwith Leisure Ltd have defended the company’s role in a £7m land deal, insisting that it remains the best hope of maximising the site’s value.
The company and four members of the Armstrong family are among litigants at loggerheads in London’s High Court over the stalled land deal, which concerns a prime plot of land at Flaxby, near Knaresborough.
The land, the site of a golf club, was sold to Skelwith Leisure by the Armstrongs in 2008 – with plans in the pipeline for a £100m luxury golf resort or even a new 2,500 home “village”.
But lawyers for 80-year-old Alan Armstrong and his family say the company’s plans have hit the buffers amidst dwindling financing and a lack of will.
Mark Warwick, the family’s QC, said they have now “lost all confidence” in Skelwith Leisure’s projects, and are seeking to develop or sell the land through other channels.
The family and its holding company claim that key “capital repayments” were not made by Skelwith, and the case has now come before Mr Justice Newey as lawyers argue over whether the family should be free to extricate itself from the deal with Skelwith Leisure.
In the meantime, the company has secured a court order barring the family from entering into any transaction in relation to the disputed plot pending the outcome of the dispute.
In the current pre-trial hearing, the judge must also deal with Skelwith Leisure’s application to “strike out” the Armstrongs’ defence, which could spell the end of the litigation.
The company’s QC, Brie Stevens-Hoare, argued that the land deals favoured by the Armstrong family “undervalued” the site.
The judge is expected to reserve his ruling in the case and give his decision at a later date.