The Friends began investigating LA&P as part of their attempt to answer the complex question of Who is the Craighouse Partnership and – more importantly – who actually owns Craighouse.
Please watch out for forthcoming articles on the Craighouse Partnership main players and on ownership in due course.
But for the moment, we wanted to bring you the curious story of LA&P
LA&P: The Mysterious Third Member of the Craighouse Partnership
The Craighouse Partnership was originally listed as Sundial Properties, Mountgrange and LA&P.
When Napier University released their press briefing on 25 March 2011, LA&P was described as having “a wealth of experience in dealing with residential schemes being delivered amidst important heritage and listed buildings” and, we were told, “will oversee the plans for the site”.
You can see the full brief here.
In their initial press release about the sale, Napier gave LA&P a glowing reference. They had experience of “bringing forward to consent” developments amidst the sensitive settings of Grade I listed buildings. A statement by one of the founders, Aldred Drummond, said LA&P were not just involved but would use their impressive credentials and experience to make sure the entire project was a success:
“LA&P was immediately drawn to the project because of the site’s historical significance and the beauty of the old buildings as well as the opportunity to broaden the spectrum of locally available housing.”
“LA&P has a strong background in strategic land acquisition and property finance, so we know that finding and securing projects like Craighouse campus come about very rarely.
“We are very much looking forward to being a part of developing one of Edinburgh’s truly great sites.”
However, when asked, we met with surprisingly intractable resistance from The Craighouse Partnership when it came to answering any questions on LA&P. Asked simple questions – full name, company number or address – Sundial, Invicta and Napier all refused to give us any information.
Then, all of a sudden, we were told LA&P were no longer part of the partnership – yet no information or update was released about this on The Craighouse Partnership website. Sundial refused point-blank to answer questions on LA&P: simple questions like what is their real name and what is their address? Joan Stringer, Principle of Napier, herself told us in writing that LA&P were no longer part of the Craighouse Partnership and also would not give their proper identifiable name, their company number or address.
However, recent evidence has come to light that things are not quite so simple and LA&P (at least 50% of it) remains very much involved in the Craighouse Partnership – and has just been made a partner of Mountgrange Scotland.
We Found LA&P!
It has taken us months but at last we have tracked them down. And here they are: Land Acquisitions & Promotions LLP.
They are a partnership, not a company.
And they are Aldred Drummond and Heneage Stevenson.
Aldred was LA&P’s “spokesman” back when the project was announced. But now seems to have dropped out of the picture. But who is and whatever happened to Heneage Stevenson?
33 year old Heneage, son of ex-HBOS Chairman Lord Stevenson, seems to be very much still involved. He is a director of Cloaca Maxima with his father – a secretive consultancy (translated from the Latin as “the big sewer”).
Not just that, but he was made (in Dec 2011) a partner of Mountgrange’s Scotland branch which is in charge of one project… you’ve guessed it. Craighouse.
There seems to be a bit of a game of musical chairs going on.
There are also a few questions that we would love to ask about LA&P’s much-lauded experience and success. Boasting of substantial expertise in overseeing developments that put thousands of new residences amidst sensitive settings of stately homes, it is not hard to imagine why a university like Napier might be persuaded that this was the kind of expertise that might secure them the profits they were looking for, in the face of the opposition they would come up against in building over such a highly protected and sensitive site at Craighouse.
However it would appear that the project LA&P boasted of, seems to come down to building on a disused quarry a mile away from a stately home. Not quite the same proposition at all.
Were Napier careless? Did they know that LA&P were inexperienced when it came to listed buildings? Did LA&P broker the deal? What was that deal and did Napier know who they were selling to? What is Napier’s retained financial interest in this development?
What is Going On?
We have been told that LA&P are no longer involved with the partnership. If LA&P is no longer involved in the partnership, then why does it appear as though Heneage Stevenson (one of its 2 partners) is now attending meetings to lobby politicians on behalf of the Partnership? Why is he writing in Mountgrange’s magazine about property investment? And why was he suddenly made partner of Mountgrange’s Scotland branch just this December?
It appears that those statements about LA&P no longer being involved in the partnership, don’t turn out to be 100% true, do they?
The question is: Why are these developers being so secretive about the identity of LA&P? And why is Napier being secretive too?