Most people are naturally suspicious about investing in exotic property projects abroad promising fantastic returns for their cash.
But what about a scheme that promises mainly overseas investors huge returns of up to 1000 per cent investing in tiny plots in the UK .
A scheme promising such returns has been running for the last five years by a Singapore based company called Profitablegroup. The company buys land and divides it up into tiny plots to resell to investors making millions of pounds. Its promoters include the company’s commercial director, Steve MacMahon, the former England and Liverpool player, and the famous celebrity former England captain, Bryan Robson, now coach to the Thai national team.
Four years ago both of them did a paid commercial for Singapore TV promising huge returns on a site near Heathrow when it is developed for housing and leisure activities. What was not clear is that site – which being near Heathrow to say investors in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore would seem a safe bet -is on Green Belt land and will require a brave planning inspector to approve any development scheme. So now four years later nothing has happened. Robson, who does not work for Profitable, said he was unaware of subsequent events. .
Similar developments ( some of which have attracted British investors) in the Colne Valleyin Essex and in Yorkshire have got lots of investors but nothing has happened there either. One site for a hotel on agricultural land has been turned down by a planning inspector, another in West Bergholt, promising up to 1000 per cent returns, according to the local parish council, has no chance of ever being developed because of stringent planning controls in the area.
So step in Chelgate, a lobbying company whose deputy chairman is Nick Wood-Dow, founder of the Tory Green initiative and an adviser to David Cameron on environmental issues. His company along with a Sheffield planning firm, are now desperately trying to convince sceptical local people councils of the need for development there. So far pretty unsuccessfully.
This is perhaps not surprising since the recent Tory green paper on planning looks certain to ensure that if Cameron is elected that the Green Belt will remain sacrosanct and developers will face more objections at a local level to additional building schemes.
So what chance have those who put somewhere over £50m into schemes of making a fortune. At the very least they face years before they get any money back. At worst they will get nowhere.
Chelgate say no one has wanted their money back and promised on behalf of Profitable that anyone who does will get their cash. We shall see what happens but at the moment these developments look like an own gaol.
An article on the issue is in the Sunday Telegraph http://bit.ly/dtiv3h.