Revealed: Offshore firms’ swathes of land and property around Biggleswade

Land Registry records have revealed where land and property has been acquired by offshore-registered

Land Registry records have revealed where land and property has been acquired by offshore-registered firms. File photo. Credit: Getty/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Offshore firms have bought up land earmarked for development around Biggleswade and surrounding towns, Land Registry records have revealed.

Land and property has been acquired by companies based in tax havens from Guernsey in the Channel Islands to St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean.

The land that has become Bigglewade’s A1 Retail Park, for example, was acquired piece by piece by Jersey-based LXB for tens of millions of pounds between 2010 and 2012, before Aberdeen Asset Management paid for £58.5 million for it in 2015.

There’s nothing to stop foreign or offshore firms from buying UK property or land, and no suggestion these firms are doing anything illegal.

But where commercial property is sold on, a legal loophole means overseas companies do not have to pay the corporation tax that British people and firms do.

The loophole costs the British taxpayer billions of pounds.

Offshore companies can also serve to obscure who the ultimate owner of land or property is.

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Elsewhere in Biggleswade, two parcels of land south of Market Garden Road on the Stratton Business Park are also offshore-owned. They were bought in 2015 by OXW Catalina (Logistics) Ltd – a Guernsey subsidiary of Bermuda-based group Catalina.

Land and buildings west of Rose Lane in Biggleswade were this year bought by Abacus Land 4 Ltd, also of Guernsey, in a separate deal. South of the town, near Edworth, a company called Investment Land (International) Ltd – incorporated in St Kitts and Nevis – has owned a field off the A1 since 2007.

North of Sandy, Severn Holdings Ltd of Guernsey this year bought the southern half of the Flamingo Flowers site west of the A1. The price for the freehold was £4,200,000, exclusive of VAT.

Offshore firms also own land around Stotfold, Shefford, Shillington and Arlesey.

In Arlesey, which is set to grow massively as part of the Arlesey Cross Masterplan – with another 2,000 homes proposed in Central Beds Council’s draft Local Plan – land west of the High Street and Cricketers Road is owned by Arlesey Ltd, of the Isle of Man.

Conservative Properties Ltd, incorporated in the Seychelles, and Jersey company Eastburn Estates are also landowners in Arlesey.

In Shefford, Olney Properties Ltd of Guernsey own a slice of undeveloped land south of Bedford Road and two more west of neighbouring Harwick Close.

As well as land, some town centre properties have been acquired by offshore firms – including 25 Market Square, Potton, which is owned by a Guernsey company called Potton Investments Ltd.

In Biggleswade, a Seychelles-registered company called Baxter Investments Ltd owns 1 Hitchin Street.