Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, called an adjournment debate in Parliament yesterday afternoon to urge the Government to act to stop the actions of unscrupulous 'land banking' firms.
These firms buy up large tracts of undeveloped Greenfield land and then miss-represent and miss-sell this land to potential investors, claiming that permission for development (which substantially increases the value of the land) is likely, or indeed very likely on the sites they retail, despite no evidence or substance on which to base this claim.
The BBC exposed the actions of English Land Partnerships in their programme Inside Out, who had bought a large tract of undeveloped Greenfield land in Leeds North West called Cookridge Pastures, and who were caught on film making misrepresentative and false claims about the development potential of the land.
Greg is passing a copy of this programme to the Department for Trade and Industry and is calling on the Government to both acknowledge this problem and to take direct and decisive action against English Land Partnerships and other companies engaged in the miss-selling of Greenfield land.
In today's debate Greg, having worked with a variety of organisations and other MPs, also outlined to the Government, ha number of ways in which this issue can be tackled, including reforming existing, or introducing new legislation and the creation of a monitoring body with the responsibility to prevent this practice.
Commenting, Greg said:
"Across the country unscrupulous and disreputable land investment firms are buying up huge swathes of undeveloped, greenfield land and then deliberately suggesting or giving the impression that permission for this land is at least likely, often very likely, when in reality, this is far removed from the truth.
ELP were caught making misrepresentative and misleading claims in regards to Cookridge Pastures in my constituency, claiming that permission for development was very likely to be granted, indeed that it would, in the words of Paul Hudson at ELP, take a mere 14 months for Leeds City Council "to say yes".
This is absolutely disgraceful and this practice must be stopped. I will be giving a copy of the BBC programme which exposes these claims to the DTI so that they can bring ELP to book.
I am pleased that the Minister present in the debate acknowledged that the miss-selling of land is an important matter and that the result of today's debate has been to put this issue firmly on the Government's agenda.
However, it is clear that this has simply not been tackled up to now; we need the Government to take action to stamp out this disgraceful practice, which rips off investors and caused real anxiety to local residents and communities"