Raithwaite owners in High Court battle

A “sorry history” of alleged broken promises and thwarted money dreams emerged in the High Court as a Yorkshire farming family and local property developers battled over a stalled £7million land deal.

The dispute revolves around Skelwith Leisure Ltd’s long-running project to develop the Flaxby site - near the A59 between York and Harrogate, near Knaresborough.

Skelwith is the parent company which owns the Raithwaite Estate at Sandsend.

The Gazette revealed last week adminstrators had been called in to take on the luxury hotel after that was also hit by financial strife being attributed to the land dispute taking money out of other concerns.

The company floated a variety of plans for the land sold to them by the Armstrong farming family in 2008 for £7 million. They included the construction of 2,500 new homes as part of a new “village” scheme, and the creation of a £100 million luxury golf resort.

Lawyers for the Armstrongs, who have farmed in the area for generations, say the company’s development proposals stalled amid lack of finance and willpower, and the case has now reached court as teams of lawyers argue over the fall-out from the purchase.

Mark Warwick QC, for 80-year-old Alan Armstrong and his family, disclosed that his clients have now “lost all confidence” in Skelwith Leisure’s ambitions .

The project unravelled as the recession took hold, the court heard, and the Armstrong family now complain that Skelwith Leisure have failed to make key “capital repayments” over the years.

He said: “The history has been a sorry one - of failed refinancing proposals and broken promises. By January this year the family had lost all confidence in the claimants’ ability to repay them.”

Faced with this deadlock, the Armstrongs began dealing with alternative buyer and developer, the Ward family.

In February Skelwith Leisure secured a court order preventing “any dealings with the property” pending the outcome of the legal dispute.

The case, before Mr Justice Newey, continues.