FSA winds up landbanking firm plus the great govt land sell-off
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Wed Jun 8 18:25:35 BST 2011
Grant Shapps on government releasing land for new homes
8 June 2011 - BBC politics - video
Campbell Ross from Shelter claims UK house
building is at record low-levels as Housing
Minister Grant Shapps announced thousands of
acres of public sector land will be sold to house builders.
Every Whitehall department with a landbank is to
publish plans on how it will release land to builders.
The minister and shadow environment secretary
Mary Creagh are questioned on house building
figures of the coalition and Labour governments.
Landbanking firm hit with winding up order
Plott UK given order in high court following FSA intervention
Consumers invested £3.9m in landbanking firm
Mark King - guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 8 June 2011 16.30 BST
Plott UK Limited sold some sites located in an
area of outstanding natural beauty. Photograph:
Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
A landbanking firm has been issued with a winding
up order by the high court after the Financial
Services Authority (FSA) found it had been
marketing plots of land as an investment
opportunity and operating an unauthorised collective investment scheme.
Between May 2009 and April 2011, Plott UK Limited
collected about £3.9m from UK consumers,
promising investors returns of between 200% and
300%. But at least one of the plots was located
in a designated area of outstanding natural
beauty and was highly unlikely to ever receive planning permission.
The FSA does not regulate land as an investment,
but it does regulate the operation of collective
investment schemes (CISs), which is how it is able to pursue landbanking firms.
Following the FSA's intervention, the high court
made a winding up order against Plott and
approved the appointment of a liquidator who will
now identify, realise, and distribute the company's assets to its creditors.
Plott customers invested a minimum of £10,000,
but the FSA said it is aware of many consumers
who invested tens and even hundreds of thousands
of pounds with the company. Until the liquidator
has completed its investigation the FSA said it
is unable to confirm whether any funds will be
available to give back to Plott's victims.
The FSA said a company named European Property
Investments (UK) Limited took over Plott's
business once the FSA took action, taking a
further £639,000 from investors between 1 April
and 25 May 2011. The FSA said it had managed to
freeze and secure £180,000, but the rest was
transferred out of EPI's account before a freezing order was obtained.
It is now pursuing a civil case against EPI for
operating an unauthorised CIS, but today's
injunction means the firm will be breaking the
law if it sells land or engages in any activity involving a CIS.
Many landbanking companies have been closed down
in the UK after using misleading advertising or
pressure techniques to persuade consumers to buy
agricultural land at vastly inflated prices that
subsequently turn out to be worthless.
Others went bust, such as United Land Holdings
four years ago, disappearing with investors' cash
and leaving them with near-unsellable plots. To
date, there is still not a single example of a
landbanking company that has made money for its investors.
Tracey McDermott, the FSA's acting director of
enforcement and financial crime, said: "This is
an important outcome and sends a warning to other
unauthorised landbanks that the FSA can and will
act decisively to shut them down.
"Consumers are much better off not putting their
money into these schemes since, by the time we
can catch up with the operators, most of the
money has disappeared and investors are left with
land that simply doesn't reflect the money paid for it.
"In our experience, operators of unauthorised
landbanking schemes do not work in isolation
they often work together and their schemes are
evolving. We are working hard to stop them but
the lesson remains: do not deal with unauthorised
businesses as you are not covered by the
Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
"Once the dust has settled we hope to be able to
repatriate remaining funds to customers of both
companies, but it is likely that some people will
not get any of their money back."
If anybody thinks they may have been contacted by
a landbank they should call the FSA's consumer helpline on 0845 606 1234.
100,000 new homes to be built on redundant publicly-owned land
As many as 100,000 new homes could be built on
redundant publicly-owned land, ministers will announce today.
By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor - 6:30AM BST 08 Jun 2011
Grant Shapps, the Housing minister, will announce
plans to force Whitehall departments to release
an area of land twice the size of Leicester to be developed.
A committee chaired by Cabinet Office minister
Francis Maude, will go through the plans to make
sure every possible site is made available for house-building.
The sale of the land could raise up to £10billion, according to experts.
A spokesman for Mr Shapps insisted the department
would seek to get the best possible outcome for the taxpayer.
Land which will be sold includes the 57 acre New
Covent Garden in Vauxhall, South London, will be
redeveloped to provide a new modern market and 2300 apartments.
Mr Shapps said: Over the coming months, property
specialists will work to make sure no stone is
left unturned and no site is left unused, and
every departments plans will come under the
close scrutiny of a Cabinet committee.
UK to sell 10 billion pounds of public land to developers
June 07, 2011 -
Britain plans to sell public land worth an
estimated 10 billion pounds ($16.35 billion) to
address a chronic housing shortage and help erode its record budget deficit.
All government departments with significant
landbanks will be asked to identify, by the
autumn, land suitable for sale for homes, Housing
Minister Grant Shapps will say on Wednesday.
This will be used to build 100,000 homes over the
next three to four years, in a scheme that is
expected to support as many as 25,000 jobs.
The 10 billion pounds estimate of surplus land is
based on government figures for land values in
England from HM Treasury in 2005, supplied by the
Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA).
"As one of the country's biggest landlords, the
government has a critical role to play in making
sites available for developers so we can get the
homes this country needs built," Shapps will say in a statement.
"Over the coming months, property specialists
will work to make sure no stone is left unturned
and no site is left unused, and every
department's plans will come under the close scrutiny of a cabinet committee."
Some of the land will be sold under a "Build Now,
Buy Later" deal, and the names of the first three
sites -- to be made available immediately to
developers -- will be announced on Wednesday.
"It will be a boost in the arm for
housebuilders," said a spokesman at the Home
Builders Federation, a 300-member trade
association which represents builders such as
Persimmon, Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey.
"We only built 100,000 homes last year and, if
implemented practically, this could mean an extra
30,000 homes a year, which is clearly a significant increase."
The HBF estimates a shortage approaching 1
million homes in England, and forecasts 232,000
homes need to be built per year to close the gap.
Britain's housing market has been slowing since
the middle of last year and recent data show
mortgage approvals fell in April to just half
their long-run average, before the financial crisis, of 90,000 per month.
Last week it emerged housebuilders are in talks
with British banks to find ways of helping buyers
overcome tight lending conditions, which have caused market gridlock.
Housing organisations are concerned the land may
not be sold at subsidised levels, leaving few
incentives for developers to build affordable
housing, of which there is a chronic shortage.
"With the Treasury under pressure to generate
high sales receipts, decisions as to what kind of
development takes place and where could be driven
simply by the highest bidder," said Hugh Ellis, Chief Planner at the TCPA.
"The private sector could be left having to
squeeze every penny out of development."
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"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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