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Kevin McCloud property firms face liquidation

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TV presenter Kevin McCloud founded the two companies, which have called in the liquidators

People who put money into two businesses started by Grand Designs star Kevin McCloud face the prospect of losing almost their entire investment.

HAB Land Finance, named after Mr McCloud’s Happiness Architecture Beauty brand, raised £2.4m from 280 people.

But investors could be almost wiped out after the company and its owner, HAB Land – which was set up to buy sites for housing estates in Oxford and Winchester – called in liquidators.

Mr McCloud had advertised 8% returns.

However, according to KPMG, which has been appointed to liquidate the two companies, the firms were hurt by a period of “difficult trading”.

In 2017, Mr McCloud had told potential investors his company was delivering “triple bottom line returns with progress on energy positivity”.

Those potential investors were pitched so-called “mini-bonds” with 8% returns to crowdfund the projects in Oxford and Winchester.

Almost 300 people put their money in to lend HAB Land Finance £2.4m to build the estates.

But they have not seen a return on that investment.

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HAB Housing

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Architect’s drawing of a HAB home in Winchester

In August, the firm wrote to bondholders to inform them that they could lose up to 97% of their investment.

A letter, published by the Guardian, said: “After final completion of the projects at both Kings Worthy and Cumnor Hill [in Oxford], 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.”

Mr McCloud resigned from both firms in March last year.

Since then directors of HAB Land have reviewed the firm’s finances and reached the conclusion that “they may not be in a position to repay” bondholders, according to KPMG.

It said the directors wrote to the bondholders “putting forward proposals in order to repay them” but those plans were rejected.

As a result, the firm’s board decided to put the company into liquidation.

‘Considerable loss’

In a statement, one of the liquidators James Bennett said: “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.”

He said the directors decided to liquidate the firm after they were unable to raise further finance or renegotiate existing debts.

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A promised orchard and play area at HAB Housing’s Lovedon Fields site in Hampshire is currently a building site

“This has resulted in a considerable loss to mini-bond holders who largely financed the project,” he said.

HAB Land director, Simon Bullock, said in a statement: “With only 22% of the mini-bond holders voting for the resolution and having exhausted all other options we were left with no alternative but to commence proceedings to put these companies into liquidation.

“With respect to the current HAB development sites in Oxfordshire and Winchester, none of the homeowners are directly impacted by this change although the situation remains fluid and under review,” he said.

“This has meant that there is, what we hope to be, a temporary pause on the remaining works on the sites.”

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Prices for Lovedon Fields homes started at £467,500

The site in Winchester has been criticised because a road was left unsurfaced and promised facilities have still not been built.

Winchester City Council said HAB Housing had not built allotments, an orchard or play area at Lovedon Fields, Kings Worthy, Hampshire.

The BBC has contacted a spokesperson for Mr McCloud for comment.


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Walkout as Polanksi wins ‘best director’ at Césars

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Another woman accused Polanski of rape in November

Several actresses have walked out of the César awards ceremony in Paris after Roman Polanski, who was convicted of the statutory rape of a 13 year old in 1977, won best director.

The awards – France’s equivalent of the Oscars – have been mired in controversy after Polanksi’s An Officer and a Spy received 12 nominations.

The Polish-French director fled the US after his rape conviction in the 1970s.

He has since faced other accusations of sexual assault.

Polanski, whose film won a total of three awards, did not attend the event, saying he feared for his safety.

The decision to honour Polanski at this year’s awards had angered feminist groups and led to calls for a boycott.

The César’s entire board resigned earlier this month amid the backlash.

This is not the first time the César awards have faced controversy because of Polanski. In 2017, he was picked to head the award’s jury, but later stepped down after the move sparked outrage.



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Prince Harry meets Jon Bon Jovi at Abbey Road Studios

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Prince Harry, Bon Jovi and two members of the Invictus Games Choir recreated the famous Beatles album coverImage copyright
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Prince Harry, Bon Jovi and two members of the Invictus Games Choir come together to recreate the famous Beatles album cover

Rock royalty met the Royal Family when the Duke of Sussex got behind a microphone with Jon Bon Jovi.

They met at Abbey Road Studios, where the US rocker is re-recording his song Unbroken with the Invictus Games Choir.

The prince – who will step down as a working royal at the end of March – posted a video of both men in a recording booth.

Bon Jovi said he looked forward to working with the “artist formerly known as prince”.

Both men greeted each other warmly on the steps of the world-famous London studio synonymous with the Beatles.

They were then ushered inside to the control room overlooking Studio 2 – where Fab Four recorded during the 1960s.

A video filmed during the duke’s visit showed the prince and the popstar wearing headphones.

The footage ends just as the pair are about to break into song.

Before entering the studio, the duke was heard to joke that the pair had “been gargling next door, so we’re ready to go”, according to the Press Association.

Bon Jovi said he had sent the song to Harry, who had sent a “very nice letter” in return which said he would “love to include it in something to do with the Invictus Games”.

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Livin’ on an Heir: The prince took time to smile for the cameras on the famous zebra crossing

Speaking before the recording, he said: “In light of what has come, you know, with his leaving the monarchy, as it were, I didn’t plan on any of this.

“But he said: ‘Not only am I going to come back [to England], you know, but I want to be there when you do it’.

“And to do it at Abbey Road, of course where the Beatles once were; and to do it with the “artist formerly known as Prince”, I think it’s gonna be an incredible, moving moment.”

You may also be interested in:

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The duke’s Instagram account released a mocked-up text exchange with Bon Jovi

Prince Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014 as a way of using sport to create a positive impact on the lives of injured service personnel and veterans.

Jon Bon Jovi has a close link with the military as both his parents served in the US Marine Corps.

The charity single version of Unbroken, featuring the Invictus Games Choir, will be released in March.

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The Beatles in their iconic Abbey Road cover shot



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Paris Fashion Week: Facemasks on show amid coronavirus concern

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Models were seen wearing facemasks at Marine Serre’s Paris Fashion Week show

One show at Paris Fashion Week proved to be unintentionally timely as models wore a range of outfits complete with matching facemasks.

The outfits were shown earlier this week by French designer Marine Serre.

The catwalk show took place amid rising concern about the outbreak of coronavirus, which caused markets to fall around the world on Friday.

But Serre’s collection was designed before the outbreak, and she has used facemasks in her collections before.

Her previous show in September also saw models cover their faces with veils or facemasks as part of the designer’s spring/summer collection.

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Models wearing facemasks at Marine Serre’s Paris Fashion Week show in September

The masks Serre uses have previously been described by her fashion house as “anti-pollution masks”.

The 28-year-old has been praised in the fashion press for the practicality of many of her designs.

“Serre’s energy has dynamised the fashion industry,” Vogue said last year. “Her hybrid garments, each a radical cocktail of century-flitting references, utilitarian practicalities, plus a sporting streak, are never so complicated as to miss the contemporary mark.”

At her showcase this week, Serre also showed a range of outfits which went further than facemasks in obscuring models’ faces.

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In some cases, Serre’s designs covered the entirety of models’ heads

But in addition to the designs appearing as part of Paris Fashion Week shows, facemasks were also being worn by some audience members at catwalk shows.

Several people attending Dries Van Noten’s autumn/winter collection showcase this week were seen wearing facemasks.

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Guests at Dries Van Noten’s Paris show were seen wearing facemasks

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Model Kozue Akimoto wore a facemask as she attended shows at Paris Fashion Week

The entertainment industry has been significantly affected by coronavirus, with several events and tours being postponed or cancelled.

On Thursday, Green Day announced they would postpone their forthcoming Asian tour “due to the health and travel concerns with coronavirus”.

“We know it sucks, as we were looking forward to seeing you all, but hold on to your tickets we’ll be announcing the new dates very soon,” the band added in their statement.

Korean pop group BTS cancelled several live shows due to take place in April at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul amid health concerns.

“It is unavoidable that the concert must be cancelled without further delay,” said a statement, originally written in Korean, which was posted on the group’s mobile fan platform.

“Please understand that this decision was made after extensive and careful consideration.”

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Brit Award-winning singer Mabel cancelled a show in Italy over coronavirus concerns

South Korea has been heavily impacted by coronavirus – the country has more than 2,300 confirmed cases so far, making it the biggest outbreak outside of China.

Other artists who have cancelled tour dates in Asia include UK grime star Stormzy, R&B singer Khalid. and a-ha, who have cancelled their show in Singapore.

Earlier this week, Brit Award-winning singer Mabel cancelled a scheduled show in Milan after a wider coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

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