Revealed: How St Albans district is owned by offshore firms in tax havens

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 January 2018

Several properties on Harpenden high street are owned by offshore companies. Photo: Danny Loo.

Several properties on Harpenden high street are owned by offshore companies. Photo: Danny Loo.

Archant

Many of the district’s well-known bars, office buildings, and plots are owned by firms based in overseas tax havens, the Herts Ad can reveal.

Prominent properties and plots of land have been purchased by companies based in the Channel Islands and elsewhere, according to the Land Registry.

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 corporation tax, a loophole which costs the British taxpayer billions of pounds every year.

We found a Luxembourg-based company called ERLP 1 S.A.R.L. bought Bricket Wood Management Training Centre for £21.9m.

A Guernsey firm called Signature of St Albans (Property) Guernsey Ltd purchased land on London Road, a major route into St Albans, for £6.7m.

The St Peter’s Street property which currently houses Poundland is owned by a Jersey company called Magern Ltd, who bought it for £1.9m.

Records do not list the price paid for all the properties owned by offshore companies.

For example, Verulam Point next to St Albans City Station, which is owned by a Jersey-based arm of asset managers BNP Paribas.

Childwickbury Manor, once home to 2001: A Space Odyssey director Stanley Kubrick, is owned by a company from the Dutch Antilles.

Audrey Park Hotel in Redbourn was bought by another Jersey-based firm, Icon Aubrey Park Property Ltd, in 2012.

High Street in Harpenden is a particular hotspot of offshore companies.

Up to 20 shops and land plots around High Street in Harpenden are owned by foreign companies according to the Land Registry.

The Slug and Lettuce is owned by the Stonegate Pub Company, who are based in the Cayman Islands.

Stonegate Pub Company also run The Blacksmiths Arms on St Peter’s Street, though it is not listed on the data.

A number of properties have also been snapped up in the last 12 years by a Jersey firm called Whitemills Ltd.

These include Anvil House on Bower’s Parade, which Whitemills bought last year.

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CountryPhile

I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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