“Buy land,” said Mark Twain. “They’re not making it any more.”
“Then once you’ve bought it, sit on it for a while, apply for planning permission, and sell it on for 10 times the price!” retort the land traders.
Land Banking in a time when the Prime Minister informed the construction industry to “Build, Build, Build”, means there is enough land to supply the housing needs of the country, the county and the district for more than 10 years.
Land banking is the practice of hoarding land in the hope that it will accrue in value over time, rather than developing it immediately.
Back in 2018 Sajid Javid vowed ‘muscular‘ action on land-banking developers in drive for new homes. Since then little to nothing has happened. The likes of Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Group and Bellway continue to landbank.
Housing developers have hit back saying that they simply need to keep a supply of land for construction. But as homeless charity Shelter exposed in July 2017, the top ten housing developers are sitting on enough plots of land for almost a million homes.
However, closer to home, there are companies such as Pentland Homes who also land bank. They are a subsidiary of Pentland Homes (Holdings) Ltd. Their latest accounts up to Jan 31st 2019, and published on the 14th Oct 2019, state:
The accounts go on to say: “The holding at the end of the year represented over five years’ supply at the current rate of build…” “The directors believe the steady performance in the year and the land ownership which either have or are progressing towards planning permission keeps the group in a strong position...”
They also say:
Pentland Homes (Holdings) Ltd pay all their taxes in the UK. In 2019 they paid £1.9 million in tax, and made a profit of £8.5 million. The directors remuneration was 846,653.
The persons of significant control of Pentland Homes (Holdings) Ltd are Peter Nettlam Tory and his son, James Nettlam Tory (pictured), who holds Cayman Islands residency.
James, according to Companies House, has been named a director in twelve companies. His is still active in five companies as a director, according to Companies House; and is a person of significant control of six of the companies.
It is an established fact that housing supply has been under-provisioned for years creating an acute housing need in this country. Companies such as Persimmon nationally; and Pentland locally, have contributed to this under supply by land banking.
Developers such as Persimmon (nationally) and Pentland (locally) are incentivised to ‘drip feed’ new homes onto the market, as releasing too many homes at once may reduce house prices in the area, which in turn would erode the developer’s profits.
Coming back to James’s Cayman Island residency, he has been able to afford this through land banking and turning a profit on the companies in which he sits. We understand James obtained his Cayman Island residency in 2013, making it clear his personal wealth was approx £17 million at the time. All this by the age of 40, just when life begins.
For those of you who are not aware, “The Cayman Islands is the most notorious tax haven on earth…”
Becoming a resident of the Cayman Islands isn’t too difficult, but it is expensive. If you want to move there, you’ll need to be prepared to spend over $1 million – even for just a temporary permit.
There are different ways to achieve Cayman residency, but an investment in property is one sure way to claim residency.
In May 2013, James and his wife purchased plot 17A 228 which resides in a top end gated community. He and his wife paid $880,000 dollars for the 0.71 acre plot. He sold another piece of land for in excess of $300,000. At this time he also owned a condominium.
In the video below you can see his house under construction (at the end of the small peninsular). It is now finished and worth in excess of $15 million.
We know James has a Cayman company and we know the name. However, the names of directors of Cayman companies were only recently made available for inspection from the 1st of October 2019. But all inspections must be made in person and cannot be carried out online.
We also know James is a member of the only 18 hole Golf club on the Island, North Sound; which is literally minutes away from his home.
James is the person of significant control in Cave Hotels UK Ltd, which owns the Etchinghill Golf Club and Boughton Golf Club. The new Cave Hotel at Boughton, recently opened, is where Robert Richardson, former manager of the Grand Folkestone, has gone to work as general manager.
So land banking can and does create enormous wealth for a few companies and individuals, by restricting the amount of sites coming onto the market. James like many others has benefited from this practice, so much so, he now has residency on “The Cayman Islands… the most notorious tax haven on earth…”
There are legitimate uses for offshore companies. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any person, company or other entities included in this blogpost have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.
The Shepwayvox Team
The Velvet Voices of Dissent