EXCLUSIVE: everything you wanted to know about the sale of Newquay airport but were afraid to ask – the full 46-page estate agents’ prospectus

Posted By on 29th January 2024

By Peter Tremayne

It has cost more than £700,000 of taxpayers’ money, and (until now) Cornwall’s taxpayers have not been allowed to see it.

The “confidential” sales prospectus for Newquay airport makes a number of claims which potential investors might find questionable.

The document has been leaked to Cornwall Reports and you can download it here:  Cornwall Airport Newquay & Estate Partnership Prospectus

There is nothing in its 46 pages which could reasonably be described as “confidential” other than to hide potential political embarrassment should the marketing exercise fail.

The prospectus has however immediately cleared up one mystery – the curious codename “Project Corduroy.”

Project Corduroy has been used as a budget heading at County Hall.  If you did not know, you might wonder why the council is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on it.

It turns out that Project Corduroy is nothing more than a shorthand for the various elements contained within the airport.

These are the aviation activities, the aerohub business park, the spaceport, the solar farm and the 200 acres of land.  “Project Corduroy” has presumably stitched them together for ease and convenience when it comes to marketing.

It is not known how much of the estate agents’ £705,814.30 fee has gone on this particular piece of creative genius.

Prospective investors will be delighted to discover that Newquay airport enjoys good road and public transport links.  Newquay railway station, apparently, is “nearby.”

Investors will be particularly excited to read about the spaceport.  The sales’ prospectus says the council “expects a partner to appreciate the rarity and track record of this element of the site.”

The document claims the spaceport earns £50,000 a year, which might come as a surprise to councillors whose budget vote next month will include a further £260,000 to pay the spaceport’s wages’ bill up to the next council elections.

The only income-generating part of the spaceport, as far as can be ascertained from its public activities, is the sale of novelty socks and its occasional hire as a disco or Eurovision song contest party venue.

One of the most valuable parts of the airport operation appears to be its café, with a claimed income of £780,000 per year through food and beverage sales.

Among the more interesting aspects of the prospectus is its discussion of the council’s “red lines” – designed to deter potential investors whose ideas are contrary to those which prevail at County Hall.

These describe the need to create a new “entity” into which the asset would be transferred.  Students of the council’s adventures with its housebuilding company, Treveth, will be familiar with the scenario.

Treveth was also supposed to leverage millions of pounds from the private sector.  That has still not happened and the economic circumstances which might allow it to happen remain elusive.

One of the “red lines” describes the council’s ambition to receive rent, or a dividend, from the successful operation of the airport.  The council also wants a big say over future decision-making.

The sales’ prospectus downplays the airport’s need for an annual subsidy of more than £3.5 million – indeed, the word “loss” does not feature anywhere in the document.  The subsidy is actually misrepresented as only £3 million.

In 2022 the airport saw around 250,000 passengers.  The sales’ brochure claims “predicted passenger traffic (is) forecast to reach 450,000 by the end of 2023” but does not say where the extra 200,000 passengers will come from.

Prospective partners had until 13th October to register their interest with bids due to be evaluated during November and December.

Perhaps the single most important passage in the brochure is the bit which says:  “CC reserves the right not to select a partner in the event that a suitable candidate cannot be identified.”

petertremayne@cornwallreports.co.uk

This article has 6 comments

  1. Honestly I despair at naivety of the current council and Corserv management.
    Council redline “removal of subsidy” – how do they think any investor is going to take on a £4m a year loss making entity and invest further money into it? The business barely turns over £4m revenue let alone creating a further £4m of PROFIT to cover the loss. Even at 20% margin the business would need to create £20m in extra revenue

  2. Wow! What a total load of @@@@@@@! Maybe we should send a copy to Mr. Gove to let him know what a complete shower he would be giving money to… fairy tales don’t come close to how ridiculous that lot are

  3. BREAKING NEWS, So NellyNak of Cornwall Council CEO disrepute, really has surpassed herself and and caused to publish, with CBRE, a true life fiction fraud fantasy (now that is a true life oxymoron, involving maybe a moron ?) a new not Bestseller, that came to light today, to compete with “Lord of the, we run Rings around something called the truth ?” The author formally known as NellyNak was apparently inspired by that other famous author of credibility – err Mr Donald Trump and his book “The Art of the Deal”. The outstanding best read of fraud and fiction Cornwall 2024, which came to light today, by the author known as NellyNak has become available to the general public today- “The Art of Deception” – by NellyNak of Cornwall Council – available today at all excellent investigative journalist websites…..

  4. Well done Cornwall Reports. Excellent journalism executed with panache!
    Thank you for making the prospectus we paid for, available. Commercially sensitive my ar**!
    I particularly warmed to the final disclaimer by CBRE on page 46 an abridged version of which would be ” do not believe any of the previous 45 page document and do not make any decisions based on the information contained therein”. A Fairy Tale reinforcing the view of Buyer Beware.

Leave a Reply