Dubai real estate agency accused of making false claims over greenbelt land (From This Is Local London)
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Dubai real estate agency accused of making false claims over greenbelt land
A Dubai-based international real estate agency has been accused of making false claims about the development potential of greenbelt land it is offering on Epsom Downs.
Kings Land is advertising exclusive plots in the "Epsom Hills", off Downsway Close, Epsom Downs - 100m away from Epsom Downs Racecourse.
On its website, it highlights the main advantages of where the 155 plots, spanning 13.5 acres, are located - including the land being within the London commuter belt and immediately adjacent to a high value residential housing development.
But the Epsom Guardian has been contacted by a number of residents who said they were "astounded" to see the land for sale.
Timothy Murphy, chairman of the Surrey branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "The land in question lies within the Metropolitan greenbelt and can have no realistic chance of acquiring planning permission for the foreseeable future.
"This is simply land speculation. It is symptomatic of the pressure that is currently being exerted on our beautiful countryside.
"It is essential that everyone - politicians, local groups and individuals - resists attempts to destroy our valued open spaces."
Kelvin Hinton, development manager at Reigate and Banstead Council, the area the land falls within, said it is being advertised with false claims of having development or investment potential.
He said: "Any development proposals for the site would be very unlikely to be granted planning permission by the council.
"We are grateful that this particular site was brought to our attention last year by a local resident after they noticed several instances of people pulling up to the lane and getting out of their vehicles to view the site."
Mr Hinton said the council served an Article 4 Direction on the site, when it became aware of how it was being marketed, to maintain the openness of the land and to stop it being fenced off into plots.
Agricultural land has permitted development rights to allow fencing to be put up and the serving of the direction effectively took away that right.
He added: "Notices were put up around the site to make local people and visitors aware. This is something we’ve done in previous similar situations in the borough.
"At the time, we also alerted Trading Standards regarding the claims being made in the advertising material."
Known as ‘land banking’, in recent years plots of land have been offered for sale at various locations, often via the internet, where it is claimed they have good investment value, usually in the expectation of future development or planning policy changes.
Michael Jelly, who manages Langley Bottom Farm - the majority of which is being sold to the Woodland Trust for a new Centenary Woods project - said its owner, St Quinton Estates sold the land in question to an individual who then sold it on to Kings Land.
It has been on the market for about a year.
Mr Jelly said: "That piece of land can’t and shouldn’t have any planning permission. They are targeting wealthy Arabs most of whom don’t come and see it. They buy it with a naive hope. But this is happening all across the country."
Kings Land has not responded to questions from this newspaper about the land, or its advertising claims.
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