Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Foreign Firms Own Huge Plots of North Land

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Foreign Firms Own Huge Plots of North Land

Article excerpt

Byline: Graeme Whitfield and David Ottewell Business writers

BILLIONS of pounds worth of property - including a large part of Newcastle city centre - are owned by companies registered abroad, new information reveals.

The ownership details of nearly 3,000 properties and plots of land in the region have been disclosed after the Land Registry made public a database of all foreign-owned commercial property in England and Wales for the first time.

Companies registered in countries including the British Virgin Islands, Mauritius, Luxembourg and the Channel Islands - which all have favourable tax regimes to the UK - are listed in the new data.

Properties included on the list range from ordinary family homes to pubs and hotels, industrial units and office blocks, as well as shopping centres, cinemas, bingo halls and luxury health clubs.

Large amounts of commercial property on business parks like Team Valley, Quorum and Silverlink are owned abroad, as are a number of farms around the region.

Among the properties listed are: | a large collection of land and empty buildings in Newcastle city centre owned by a company in the British Virgin Islands; | land in the Northumberland greenbelt which is at the centre of a major planning row is owned by a company registered in Guernsey; | nearly 1,000 family homes around the North East which are part of a vast property empire belonging to a company in Mauritius.

The most prominent group of land and buildings owned by a foreign company is around the Pilgrim Street area of Newcastle, which is registered to Taras Properties Ltd in the British Virgin Islands.

The sites - which are currently seeing a programme of demolition in readiness for future developments - are owned by the Reuben brothers, two of the UK's richest men.

Also registered in the British Virgin Islands, where there is a zero tax rate on companies that do no business in that jurisdiction, is a group of buildings on Newcastle's Collingwood Street, a large number of industrial buildings on the Aycliffe Business Park in County Durham and a hotel near the Metrocentre. …

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