The Chesterfield and District Civic Society held their AGM at St Thomas Church in Brampton on Thursday, September 21. Their guest speaker was Dan Pattrick, the founder and managing director of Stone Castle Enterprises, Chesterfield Borough Council’s preferred bidder for Tapton House.
Dan spoke to the Civic Society, along with members of the public, regarding SCE’s plans for Tapton House. He started by talking about his background, having worked in property since 2007 and officially forming the Dapatchi company in 2014.
Dan said that the directors of SCE have a combined four decades of industry experience, especially in the development of brownfield sites. He also stressed the importance of the company’s values – including “transparency” and “working with communities.”
A number of awards were mentioned by Dan, with SCE having previously been named as Qandor’s developer of the year, along with nominations for several categories in the Somerset Building Contour Awards.
He added that they have done “a lot of work all over the UK with different listed buildings” – but admitted that Tapton House would be their first conversion of a grade II* listed property, having mostly worked with grade II listed buildings. Dan said that SCE were already engaging with Historic England and with what he believed to be “some of the best historical consultants in the UK.”
As the meeting progressed, Dan talked through some recent similar projects undertaken by SCE across Sheffield, Leek and Brighton. He said that at Tapton House, as with these developments, there would be “very little difference externally” and “very little visual impact” – seeking instead to “enhance the fabric of the building.”
Dan later took some time to address the concerns raised around the series of insolvencies for the Dapatchi group of companies – previously detailed in the Derbyshire Times.
He said that Dapatchi was his “life’s work”, and that the pandemic was a “really difficult time for myself and my partners.”
There were 11 companies under the Dapatchi umbrella, and Dan said the business had a monthly turnover of more than £1.5 million, delivering national projects and directly employing 250 people.
In October 2019, Dan said that Dapatchi was “going from strength to strength”, and at that point they decided to merge with an existing construction firm. He added that the “economy was strong and we had good financial reserves – it made a lot of sense.”
The merger was completed at the end of 2019, and just a few months later the pandemic hit – which Dan said started “the downfall of what was Dapatchi.”
Dan raised a number of issues that impacted the company. He said that the firm had signed a number of JCT fixed price contracts, with penalties for time and price changes – which were unavoidable due to the pandemic – later being invoked.
Their team was reliant on being able to travel to sites across the country, something that became unviable during lockdowns. The company also had to initiate multiple site lockdowns due to track and trace, paying to put people up in hotels while they self-isolated.
Dan also highlighted their overhead costs, with SCE having three office buildings and 38 vehicles. During the first national lockdown, Dan said that the construction industry was told to continue but suppliers often closed, meaning SCE couldn’t purchase the materials they needed to deliver projects.
The meeting then moved on to the financial figures reported around Dapatchi’s insolvency. Of the previously reported £5 million cross-company loss, Dan explained that over £3 million of this was related to personal loss and investment from himself, his partners and their businesses. This was invested to help navigate the pandemic, ensuring that projects were completed and protecting both creditors and staff. He also explained some filing errors and offsets, leaving the actual write off at around £1.6 million – which represented around one month’s turnover for Dapatchi.
Dan added that every single development project the company was involved in had been finished, resulting in the multi-million pound personal loss. He said that the directors “placed Dapatchi into administration through choice after trying very hard to sustain it through the Covid pandemic.”
SCE and CBC are still finalising negotiations around the leasehold - the plans will be submitted for permission as soon as that is done. It was also confirmed at the meeting that the proposals contain no new build elements and do not encroach further into the grounds than the existing buildings.
Dan went on to discuss risk management. He said that Tapton House is subject to a 999 year leasehold, allowing CBC to maintain some control. He added that SCE will be subject to several parameters in terms of time limits, and if these are not met, CBC can take the property back – with an option for the authority to pass it onto a third party.
SCE are working on plans for a heritage centre, and Dan said that he was hopeful the Civic Society might be involved in that process. He said the scheme had been “led by heritage from the start”, adding that the centre was something SCE had proposed rather than a necessity imposed by CBC.
Dan stressed that the local authority had conducted substantial due diligence into the company and their funding offers. He confirmed that the company had proven to have over £1 million in directly available funding, as well as offers from development finance companies – one of which is FCA regulated and had offered 100% of funding.
Dan added that another of these lenders was a billion pound fund, with the council being provided with direct evidence of this and undertaking their own due diligence to ensure the viability of these offers.
When discussing the future of Tapton House, Dan said the building needed “substantial investment” to safeguard the building for years to come – estimating that the cost of the project will reach between £4 and £4.5 million. He added that SCE had considered a number of different approaches to the property, but the only model they thought was suitable was that which they had proposed.
Dan reassured attendees that he “truly believed that we are the best developers in the country to deliver this. It’s not an easy job but it’s not a stretch, it's something we’re more than capable of delivering – it’s as important to us as it’s important to you.”
One question from the audience focused on issues around parking, with a proposed influx of new residents into the Tapton area. Dan said the car park at the site would be divided in half, leaving 55 parking spaces for new residents, equipped with electric charging points.
Another attendee raised concerns around the affordability of the flats themselves, given the maintenance and service charges likely to be associated with a grade II* listed building. Dan said that, with the way the project would be handled, the flats would “effectively be new builds” from a maintenance perspective.
When anti-social behaviour around the building was highlighted by another member of the public, Dan said that his experience as a developer suggested that, when unused buildings are brought back to life, those engaging in anti-social behaviour tend not be attracted to these revived sites. He added that the property will be covered by CCTV, with efforts underway to create plans for a soft boundary that feels natural to the surroundings.
One attendee asked Dan what other projects SCE were engaged with, and he said the company is currently live on three sites. He said the firm had changed its operations and no longer works nationally, only committing to sites within an hour of their Doncaster location as part of a process of “pandemic proofing” the business.
Dan said: “We’ve learned from our mistakes, I can stand here and say that with honesty and sincerity because I know that. This debate only gets solved with delivery. I’m excited about building it – I know proof is the only truth and getting it done is the only solution.”