Work to complete a long-delayed new block of town centre flats has hit trouble again as the second contractor hired by the council has run into money problems.

Osborne Limited was appointed by Wokingham Borough Council this year to complete the Carnival Place flats project after previous contractors went bust.

But now Osborne has also said it intends to go into administration – and the council is preparing to take over the site again ‘should this be necessary.’

A council spokesperson told the News: “Wokingham Borough Council has been advised that Osborne Ltd, the main contractor at Carnival Place, has issued a notice of intent to appoint an administrator.”

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The spokesperson said the council would ‘move to secure the site and complete the works should this be necessary'.

Some 55 homes were supposed to have been ready for people to move in during September last year as part of initial council plans to redevelop Carnival Hub on Wellington Road in Wokingham.

But construction ground to a halt when the company building the flats – The Mid Group – went into liquidation in 2022.

Senior council officers announced in February this year that they had appointed Osborne to finish the job, and that work had begun.

But Osborne said on Friday, April 22, that it had filed a notice of intent to appoint an administrator, who will take over management of the business. This can mean spending cutbacks and even sell-offs as administrators try to keep the business afloat.

Osborne also said it could sell parts of its business that will then continue to trade. It linked its financial troubles to industry-wide problems including the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and high inflation.

Bracknell News: The Carnival Pool developmentThe Carnival Pool development (Image: HLM Architects)

In a statement the firm said: “Osborne has faced significant headwinds common to the entire construction over the past two years, fuelled by high inflation, the lingering impacts of COVID-19 and Brexit, and a slowdown in public sector procurement.”

It added: “Despite the management team ensuring the current business is profitable with a good pipeline of work the business has struggled to secure the necessary investment to continue as a going concern.”

It is not known what the move could mean for the Carnival Place flats as the administrator has not yet been appointed to make decisions.

Wokingham Borough Council also said it was ‘premature’ to offer further comment, including on why it chose to appoint Osborne, and whether it had been aware of the contractor’s financial situation.

The council spokesperson told the News: “It is premature for the council to comment further at this time. Given the risks inherent in all building contracts of this type, the council has rigorous policies in place to manage situations like this.”