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Inverness Ironworks hotel deal reaches important milestone

By Ally Tibbitt

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The artist's impression of the hotel which has been given planning permission.
The artist's impression of the hotel which has been given planning permission.

Six months after the closure of the Ironworks arts venue the owner of the site has confirmed that they expect to finalise the sale of the property to a Hong Kong-based property developer within weeks.

Official documents for the much-loved arts venue show that the current owner of the site is a company called Uplands Property Group.

It bought the property for £1 in 2016. It is controlled by David Cameron, who is also a director of a swathe of companies, including Caley Thistle.

Mr Cameron confirmed to The Inverness Courier that the sale of the Ironworks site will “finally” complete in “the next couple of weeks”. However, he would not be drawn on the sale price.

The buyer is reportedly Bricks Group. Cameron confirmed that once the sale had been finalised the future of the site would be entirely in the hands of Bricks Group.

In June 2022, Bricks Group won planning permission to demolish the venue and replace it with a £30 million hotel. The controversial decision by Highland councillors led to the subsequent closure of the music venue.

Elephant Sessions headlined an emotional closing night at the venue on February 4 and the building has lain unused since.

Planners were told Bricks Group hoped that the hotel operator would be Courtyard by Marriott. As well as including 155 bedrooms, the plans also incorporate a café/bar, restaurant and two gyms – one for guests and one for the public.

No one from the firm would comment on the deal despite repeated attempts to contact the firm. There is no confirmed timescale when work will begin on the hotel.

The former music venue has been empty since the start of February.
The former music venue has been empty since the start of February.

Companies House records show Bricks Group is ultimately owned by a Hong Kong-based company called Bricks Capital Limited. The group established two subsidiary companies called Inverness Propco Limited and Inverness OpCo Limited in 2019. Since they were set-up both have been largely dormant.

Bricks is controlled by Peter Pricket. The most recent accounts filed by a Bricks Group holding company, show that the group of UK-based companies owed their Hong-Kong parent firm more than £10 million at the end of 2021. They also pay an annual interest rate of 23 per cent on the loan. The same group also owed Mr Pricket a further £6 million directly.

It has not all been plain sailing for Mr Pricket’s firm. In 2022, a series of group subsidiary companies linked to property developments in Newcastle were placed into administration “as a result of an overdue loan,” worth £11.7 million. The group was restructured in the spring and is now financed through a Luxembourg-based company.

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