David Richard Pownceby (pictured) has held or holds directorships in 97 companies.
Companies House shows that he is, or has resided in 68 companies as a director, person of significant control and/or a shareholder.
It is his company Sunningdale House Developments Limited, ‘which has acquired the land at Princes Parade,’ and Hythe Swimming Pool site in South Road, as per Report Number:C/21/75 (see Para 2.6). A planning application must be submitted by July 18 at the latest, as we understand. Sunningdale House has appointed Hythe-based architects Holloway Studio to deliver the design side of the development. That said, the Land Registry document for Princes Parade, as of the 25.06.22, does not show the land owned by the council, or any part thereof has been ‘acquired‘ by Sunningdale House Developments Ltd.
A two-day community engagement event about the housing part of the site was held at Hythe Town Hall on Monday, May 30th and Tuesday, May 31st.
‘The proposed seafront houses‘ says the blurb on Sunningdale House’s website ‘will be central to the 14,500m2 site. These will comprise a mix of duplexes and townhouses, with a number of properties designated ‘affordable homes’ to meet local needs. The properties, along with commercial outlets such as a hotel, leisure centre, restaurants and shops, will be set against a landscaped, traffic-free promenade. This innovative design aspect will contribute to a 35% increase in public realm area.’
But who is David Pownceby, the joint shareholder in Sunningdale House?
Mr Pownceby ran a company by the name of Lilybrook Holdings Ltd. On the 7 June 2013, there was an extraordinary resolution to wind up the company. It left creditors out of pocket to the tune of £217,922, according to Companies House documents.
He also ran Lilybrook Developments Ltd which too was wound up leaving creditors high and dry for £17.3m, according to companies house.
He also ran Lilybrook Construction Ltd which too was wound up leaving creditors high and dry for £136,479.
Then there was DRP Real Estate which was wound up leaving creditors high and dry for £16.65m
Mr Pownceby’s former companies, of which he was the person of significant control and a shareholder, were dissolved owing £34,331,309, to 124 creditors, according to companies house, and the Insolvency practitioner who wound the companies up.
Experts in forensic accountancy who we spoke to claim the companies named above were more likely than not trading while insolvent. Mr Pownceby has been contacted for comment, but at the time of publishing no response to our questions, and the claims of our experts has been received.
Coming back to Sunningdale House Developments Limited, one of it’s shareholders – who own 50% – is Sunningdale Investments Limited, based in the offshore tax jurisdiction of Jersey. This company is owned by David Kirch KBE.
According to the latest set of Group accounts lodged at companies house – 6 Oct 2021 – Mr Kirch’s Jersey based company, Sunningdale Investments Limited loaned Sunningdale House Developments, £54m in 2014. The latest set of accounts go onto say:
Only £9m of the original £54m loan has been paid back. They show Mr Pownceby’s companies are carrying a combined debt of £74.9m. It had retained losses of £3,125,314 and made of a loss of £550,160 an is all dependent on that loan from Mr Kirch. If Mr Kirch were to cancel the loan for any reason, Sunningdale House Developments Ltd would fold without refinancing from elsewhere. We do ask ourselves how BNP Paribas and the Council, have not spotted this oddity. The company is not cash rich, and it is usually poor cash flow which brings companies down.
A quick look at Google Reviews (which are not verified) and nicelocal show that as a developer it receives mixed reviews, from tradesmen and other construction companies who undertake work for Sunningdale House, and its subsidaries. They (not us) make it clear there are issues with being paid, which is indicative of cash flow issues. This is a similar scenario to what happened prior to the Lilybrook companies being dissolved, owing money to 124 creditors.
We put questions to Sunningdale House Developments about their solvency, but at the time of publishing no response had been received.
All together we have spoken to 43 companies during the course of our investigation, and each of them raised the issue of non-payment and being left out of pocket. Adding up what they say they are owed, the sum is more than a £3,4m. We cannot verify this, but given there are numerous companies and individuals, who have openly and publicly stated it, without being sued for defamation, or malicious falsehood, does appear to give significant credence to their claims.
Our public face has asked Mr Pownceby, via his PR agency, We are Fabrick, run by David Ing, if his companies are solvent, or if he is trading while knowing he’s insolvent, but again we’ve had no response.
There are also mixed reviews about the quality of the homes Sunningdale House Developments have built. Local people we have spoken to, make it clear the quality of the homes were not fantastic. That said, others say the complete opposite.
Now as we’ve said, the land registry documents do not show that Sunningdale House Developments company have ‘acquired‘ any part of the Princes Parade land where the 150 houses, hotel and cafes will be situated. We’d ask Sunningdale House, if they’d publish the contract with the council, redacting any truly sensitive numbers, and/or land registry proof they’ve acquired the land. The council could do the same, and we need Cllrs, especially those who’ve fought so hard to Save Princes Parade to request again and again, the release of the contract between them & Sunningdale House.
Finally, we’d like to know what due diligence Folkestone & Hythe District Council undertook on Mr Pownceby and his companies, before allowing him to ‘acquire‘ the land at Princes Parade. Perhaps, Overview & Scrutiny could call this in, or Audit & Goverance request East Kent Audit Partnership prepare a report. Is there any brave Cllr, who’d dare request such documents be released, to allow residents to make up their own mind whether or not any due diligence was robust enough.
As we’ve said, we’ve asked Mr Pownceby a set of questions, one of them being are his companies trading while insolvent. At the time of publishing he has not responded. If perchance he does, we will of course publish his response.
The Shepway Vox Team
Being Voxatious is NOT a Crime