Kevin McCloud's housing firm is at risk of insolvency

Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud’s troubled housing firm is at risk of insolvency leaving investors fearing they could lose thousands

  • Kevin McCloud’s eco housing firm Happiness Architecture Bureau is in trouble
  • The firm is facing formal insolvency leaving investors of losing their money
  • Accountancy firm KPMG has called in the money it is owed by the company
  • Mr McCloud warned investors: ‘HAB Housing cannot pay’ the demand  

Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud, pictured, has written to investors in his eco property firm to warn them the company may be going into a formal insolvency process 

Investors in an eco-friendly property venture launched by Grand Designs host Kevin McCloud have said they fear they may never see their money again.

McCloud launched Happiness Architecture Beauty (HAB) in 2007 ‘to make homes that lift the spirits’.

But the Guardian reported on Friday that an email sent by McCloud to HAB Housing investors said that accountancy firm KPMG had attempted to call in money owed by HAB Housing.

‘HAB Housing cannot pay and could yet be forced into a formal insolvency process,’ the email was reported as saying, adding: ‘I am determined that investors should see their investment as not entirely lost.’

McCloud resigned as a director of HAB Land Ltd in 2018 and control of the company was acquired by another firm, BAH Restructuring Limited.

In October 2019, KPMG was appointed as a liquidator of BAH Restructuring Limited, HAB Land Limited and HAB Land Finance plc.

KPMG said in October that HAB Housing Limited was unaffected by those liquidation proceedings.

Joint liquidator James Bennett said last October: ‘The directors have reported that higher-than- anticipated design and project management costs, coupled with delays to the delivery of the sites, resulted in the companies experiencing significant liquidity issues.’

The Guardian quoted Robin Brookes, who put £5,000 into HAB Housing after it launched an equity crowdfunding campaign, as saying: ‘It is starting to look like I will be getting nothing back at all.’

Retired teacher Gill Mascord, who had previously invested £3,000, told the PA news agency that while she had not read the latest email reported in the Guardian, she felt the money was already ‘lost’.

She said: ‘I’m not expecting to get any of the money back.’

Ms Mascord said she had been aware there were potential investment risks, but added: ‘It felt less risky because Kevin McCloud was involved with it and because the principles that they were using seemed like wholly good ones.

‘I have never invested like that before and I never will again.’

Accountancy firm KPMG was written to Mr McCloud, pictured, and demanded its money back

Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud launched his own property venture in 2007 with his eco-homes business Happiness Architecture Beauty (HAB). But the company’s Lovedon Fields development has been beset by problems

The idea was that HAB Housing, McCloud’s company, would be markedly different from other construction firms

Several of the schemes started by the firm, such as this one in Kings Worthy, Winchester, faced significant delays

The modern eco-friendly homes nestle between industrial fencing and unfinished roads

The ‘HAB Housing’ sign is visible from the road to passers-by but residents say the company has been difficult to get hold of

Many parts of the development remain unfinished and residents are living in streets that still look like a construction site

The firm broke a record for crowdsourced funding in 2013 but now investors can’t get their money out and may never see it again

‘They keep saying they haven’t got any money’: How HAB Land Ltd’s financial woes keep getting deeper

When HAB Land Ltd wanted to raise capital in 2017 it issued a ‘mini bond’ to small investors, who put in anything from a few thousand pounds to £200,000.

In total the bond issue raised £2.4 million.

Mr McCloud personally encouraged investors to part with their money, writing the bond would: ‘directly fund our schemes and yield healthy returns that are economic, social and environmental.’

He added: ‘I really hope you feel excited to join us on that adventure.’

The five-year bond promised annual returns of eight per cent. 

But in August the company wrote to propose a restructuring which would prevent any investor receiving an interest payment or cashing out any money until 2024 at the earliest.

The company also warned investors: ‘After final completion of the projects … the net return available to bondholders would be expected to range from £606,000 (best case) to £69,000 (worse case) which, in each case, is equivalent to 26 pence and 3 pence for every £1 of bond monies invested’.

It means investors stand to lose between 74 per cent and 97 per cent of their capital.

Last week the company confirmed bondholders had rejected the proposed restructuring 

 

 

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