Beware land scams, says Wealden Council

Landowners and prospective buyers are being warned not to be taken in by attempts to divide agricultural land into small plots for sale under the false pretence that it can be used for housing.wealden-district-council-un

Officers from Wealden District Council’s enforcement team have been working closely with the police in a case of land banking fraud.

This related to land in Wealden, at Groombridge, and in neighbouring Kent and resulted in the conviction at Southwark Crown Court of two men who were jailed after being found guilty of conning 101 victims of over £2 million in land banking fraud. They were sentenced on Friday.

More details of the case can be found on the Metropolitan Police website.

Wealden cabinet member for planning and development Cllr Ann Newton said: “Much of the agricultural land in Wealden is protected by planning policies, including the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but this does not deter some unscrupulous operators from suggesting that parcelling up farmland into small plots will suddenly make it acceptable to planners and developers.

“It can give a flase impression that development of the land is inevitable, regardless of any open countryside restraint provided for in planning guidance or local development plan policies for the area.

“It is not, but the large amounts of money involved with developmetn land may cloud some people’s thinking.”

A press release from Wealden Council said when local authorities are alerted to the sale of smaller plots of land, they can call on a number of potential enforcement actions and strategies to remove some ‘permitted development rights’ to prevent it being fenced off into smaller plots.

The council says any prospective purchasers should seek advice from the local planning authority when considering buying any land which is advertised for sale, without the necessary planning permission in place.

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