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Latest Beetham tower block administration leaves '£50 million debt'

What next for the cityscapes of northern England as the super-skyscraper era comes to an end?

There's an instructive piece in North West Business Insider about the mountain of borrowing which underlay those modern landmarks of the North, the Beetham property company's various towers. Rising proudly above Liverpool and Manchester they prove to have been built on the sort of credit which has slid away in the crunch, like sand.

Insider's correspondent David Casey has been reading a report from Baker Tilly who were appointed administrators when a winding-up petition was filed at the High Court in July for Regional Landmark Hotels, formerly called the Beetham Organisation.

This puts the amount owed at more than £50 million and follows previous administrations of other parts of the firm, which saw KPMG sell the iconic Beetham hotels in Manchester and Liverpool in March to Cypriot businessman Loucas Louca for an estimated £65-70 million. The full piece is here.

A similar fate befell Leeds' highest profile developer Kevin Linfoot, whose KW Linfoot firm had the vaulting ambition to design a 54-story glass-clad skyscraper with a 32-story twin called Lumiere. The launch scenes were extraordinary, even for the giddiest moments of the city's property boom, with the French designer Philippe Starck holding court amid stiltwalkers, chocolate-coated women and fireeaters.

Linfoot went into administration 19 months later, in February 2009, and the Lumiere handling company sought liquidation the following years. The site remains an undeveloped plot with plans for a temporary minipark being mulled.The skyscraper neededover £1 million just to pay for planning costs.

The elan of the schemes, built or not, was remarkable but many felt queasy at the scale of lending which inevitably had to underly such vaulting notions. It is hard now to recall an era which saw Leeds planners talking about an avenue of skyscrapers marching up the hill towards the university with 23 applications for towers averaging 35 storeys in the planning system in 2007.

What now? Modest development has survived or is restarting in all the major northern cities, but it will surely be a long time before we see ambition again on the scale of this century's first seven years. Where next for architects and property developers; what advice would you give? Can small be beautiful again? © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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