Back in the day when there only seemed one way for property prices to go, several companies moved in to exploit the great rush for property of any sort – and particularly land – that went with the boom. This reached a peak a couple of years ago.
The deals generally consisted of large areas of land on the edge of existing developments but within the greenbelt. The land was then sectioned off into very small plots – the vast majority of which had no independent access – and sold off at a price well in excess of its usual value (this type of land usually goes for £3-5k an acre) on the hope that one day it will achieve planning permission and all the owners would get very rich.
Of course, in the tradition of all ‘too good to be true’ schemes it was doomed to failure and the bubble was spectacularly burst at the Ideal Home Show in 2006, when a stand of one of the leading lights of this dubious sector was closed down by the DTI. Gradually, helped not least by regular articles in The Guardian by Patrick Collinson and regular pieces in Homebuilding & Renovating magazine by David Snell, Mark Brinkley and others, the public got wise to the sell.
I’ve since heard, however, that one of the main companies (they all have official-sounding names and one even has a logo that appears to mimic a royal crest!) is now operating in South Africa and enjoying success again. This link to what was the homepage of one of the major companies and is now an FAQ for disgruntled investors shows the harsh reality of a scam industry that touched our self-build world all too closely.