An own goal investment in England’s green and pleasant land

Lower Feltham Lakes near Heathrow - Green Belt development where Profitable Group plan leisure and housing

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.

4 thoughts on “An own goal investment in England’s green and pleasant land

  1. I saw the article in the Telegraph. Excellent stuff. We complain about the dodgy investments coming into the UK from Spain and scams from Nigeria. UK “investment” products are gaining the same reputation in Asia. The export of overpriced UK Land Plots is a scandal. Of course Asian buyers should beware but the UK still has an association with integrity in some places. The promotion of UK land plots using UK soccer players with pictures of the houses of parliament and Big Ben on Asian ESPN next to Premier League football matches gives a credibility where none should exist.

    The UK local authorities and land registry are enablers in this process because they refuse to make clear and unambiguous statements about the prospects for land. These mixed messages are used by the land banking companies to suggest planning is imminent. The threat to the green belt is so often reported in the UK press that green belt protection is reported to be meaningless by land banking salespeople.

    With reference to the telegraph article I note that Chelgate were quoted as saying adverts offering 250% returns were last run in 2006. In fact adverts with estimated 250% returns in 3 years were running at the end of 2008. The advert from Singapore national TV in Oct 2008 can be seen here.

    So based on this advert and regardless of what Chelgate say a whole group of people are expecting to be paid out in 2011 not a minimum of 10 years later.

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  2. Pingback: 2010 in review « David Hencke

  3. In 2006 I invested in a similar scheme with a company trading as Commercial Land. Initially I received periodic progress reports by telephone, but then silence. I have tried to contact them numerous times but can’t get through to anybody. I have left numerous messages on their answer phone without getting any callbacks. When I call the last number I had for the account manager/broker I am asked for an access code which of course I don’t have. Anyone had any experience of this particular company or any ideas on how to pursue further investigation, perhaps names of private detectives/accountants I can contact? I would appreciate any information you can pass on.

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