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Work stops on Falconer Chester Hall skyscraper after developer arrested

Builders have stopped working on two Liverpool schemes designed by Falconer Chester Hall, including a 39-storey tower, following the arrest of a developer and a local council official last month

Contractor Vermont has suspended work on the £100 million Aura hotel and student accommodation scheme on the northern boundary of Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter as well as the £250 million three-tower Infinity project close to the Mersey.

Both schemes are being developed by Elliot Group, which is operated by up-and-coming local property magnate Elliot Lawless, 32.

Last month Lawless was arrested on suspicion of fraud alongside an employee of Liverpool Council, named in local reports as the city council’s regeneration chief Nick Kavanagh, as part of a corruption and bribery investigation.

The men were released on bail, and neither has been charged. At the time Lawless said the allegations were ‘completely baseless’ and vowed to ‘clear his good name’.

It has since emerged that Merseyside police also seized £200,000 in cash belonging to Lawless. Lawless said the cash was fully receipted and that he expects it to be returned.

Falconer Chester Hall director Adam Hall told the AJ that his practice was not stopping work on either the Infinity or the Aura schemes and that the construction pause would be for ‘no longer than a month, if that’.

He said: ‘I think [the pause] is just [for] this week as people come back to work.

‘It’s a short period of just making sure all funding is in place – and I believe that is the case – so I really don’t think it’s something which will cause any long term effect on the project.’

A statement by Elliot Group said work would restart following the ‘satisfactory conclusion of outstanding legal matters’.

Hall added: ‘I have always found Elliot an impeccable person to work for, and we have no reason to believe that his projects won’t be up and running.

‘We have done about 20 projects with him and we’ve probably got that many in the pipeline.’

The first phase of Infinity – the tallest tower – is due to be completed in December 2020, with most of the one, two and three-bedroom apartments already sold, according to the scheme’s website

Phase one of Aura, which comprises the student accommodation but not the hotel, is due to be completed in September 2020 – in time for the next academic year.