Figures disclosed to the Eye under freedom of information reveal that of £600m lent to property developers in the past three years under build-to-rent, a total of £167m – more than a quarter of all loans – went directly to companies in the Channel Island tax havens of Jersey and Guernsey, where any gains made are likely to escape tax. These include:
£25.3m to Essential Living, a self-described “London-based” property developer, to build three high-rise apartment blocks: Archway Tower in Islington, acquired in 2013 via Jersey company Essential Living (Archway) Ltd; Farriers House in Bethnal Green, acquired in 2013 via Essential Living (3CL) Ltd, also in Jersey; and Berkshire House in Maidenhead, acquired in 2012 via Essential Living (Maidenhead) Ltd, yet another Jersey company. The loans went directly to these offshore companies. Continue reading How to milk a Jersey cash cow
A SKYSCRAPER is set to be built in Swiss Cottage after the government overturned Camden Council’s refusal and granted permission for work on the tower to go ahead. …
The work will mean the demolition of the 1980s buildings on the site, once home to the Hampstead and Highgate Express newspaper offices.
Essential Living, currently working on the refurbishment of the Archway Tower, plans a further building of up to seven storeys for the site, creating 148 privately-rented homes, 36 “affordable” homes and space for new shops and restaurants. Space has also been offered to The Winch community centre to use at a subsidised rent. Continue reading Swiss Cottage Fiasco
Previous in-depth reporting by the Bureau highlighted how the UK’s planning system allows developers to reduce their affordable homes targets while keeping their justifications secret.
Developers carry out financial viability assessments for their proposed developments, which often conclude that meeting the affordable housing targets set by local authorities would reduce their profits to a point that the scheme would be worth their while. However those assessments are kept confidential, with even councillors unable to see them. Continue reading Planning documents kept secret
In Wednesday’s Commons debate, Tottenham MP David Lammy cited the example of how a proposal to turn a former police station in his constituency into flats which would have seen just 14% of the units reserved for low cost housing. (Like us in Brentford!)
“That is not acceptable when public land is involved,” Lammy argued.
The London Mayoral hopeful added: “We should make the plans that developers put forward for public land transparent and open. All of the accounts of viability on public land should be available to the public, so that they can interrogate whether the proportion of affordable homes is in fact fair.” Continue reading Housing developers must disclose secret viability assessments