BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

28 October 2014
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

BBC Homepage
Inside Out
East Midlands
North East
North West
South East
South West
West Midlands
Yorks & Lincs
Go to BBC1 programmes page (image: BBC1 logo)

Contact Us

 East Midlands: Monday September 13, 2004


Property developer Baron Deschauer
Property developer Baron Deschauer

A new breed of property developer has emerged, snapping up huge swathes of farmland, dividing it up and selling it on. With pressure on housing stocks at their highest in decades, is this scheme a canny investment, or a big con?

Many of us dream of escaping town and city and owning a home in the heart of the English countryside.

For residents in the Nottinghamshire village of Collingham - that dream is a reality.

Collingham is a popular choice amongst commuters for its excellent connections to nearby towns and cities.

With the property boom of recent years, Collingham is a popular choice for another resident - the property developer.

New kid on the block

Canadian businessman Baron Deschauer is already a millionaire at the age of 33.

In the village of Collingham, he seems set to increase his fortune.

The village of Collingham
Collingham has all the benefits of country living

Baron Deschauer is a property developer who buys acres of farmland, splits it into plots and sells it on at a substantial profit.

Each plot is sold without planning permission.

He has recently acquired 205 acres of land next to the village of Collingham for between £2,000 and £2,500 an acre.

With the plots divided into 268 half acre and acre plots, they are sold on for prices upwards of £16,500 each - the most expensive plot fetching an incredible £35,000.

The sheer scale of the project and the attractive marketing literature is causing alarm amongst local residents, who meet regularly to discuss the plans.

"If you're buying land at £2,500 - £3,000 agricultural prices, selling it 'allegedly' as agricultural land at £15,500 - £35,000, then that's a rather large mark-up," observes one Collingham resident.

The mark-up may be great but it seems the offer is still highly attractive to prospective buyers.

According to the website many plots have been sold or are under offer.

Planning ahead

Land is split into small plots and sold to prospective home builders

Although plots are sold without planning permission, Baron Deschauer is confident that he can capitalise on the uncertainty of the UK housing market.

"There is an inevitability of development," he explains, "and in my regard it's not a question of if, but when."

The Barker report published earlier this year would certainly sustain this belief.

The report recommends the building of 140,000 homes each year if housing supply is to match demand.

Yet Newark and Sherwood District Council are adamant there will not be planning permission granted on this land.

"Whilst any application would have to be considered on its merits, we do not anticipate any need for housing on this land in the short, medium or long term," explains Council Deputy Leader, Roger Blaney.

This does little to deter Baron Deschauer who insists, "as long as they establish what they are objecting to we can address those issues.

"We will address then resubmit.

"We will appeal and resubmit.

"We can keep on going until eventually we achieve success."

Don't fence me in

Baron Deschauer with plans
Baron Deschauer has already acquired agricultural land in the south

Despite the lack of planning permission, the potential to a make profit on the land is attracting many speculators.

The buying of agricultural land has proved particularly common in the south of England where not surprisingly, Baron Deschauer has already staked his claim.

The village of Groombridge, East Sussex is an area of outstanding natural beauty making it attractive to house buyers and, of course, property developers.

Baron Deschauer and his company acquired 40 acres of agricultural land next to the village.

The village woke to find unsightly fencing marking out each plot even though planning permission is unlikely to be granted.

This has served as a warning to Newark and Sherwood council who have taken the step of placing an "article four" direction on the land.

This prevents any development which would change the appearance of the land, including fences and laying road surfaces.

What lies beneath?

It is not just the lack of planning permission that could stand in the way of potential buyers though.

Alasdair Morrison local land agent
Local land agent Alasdair Morrison is bemused by the amount of money plots are selling for

A solicitor's search reveals the existence of an oil pipe running beneath a corner of the land.

The pipe carries high octane aviation fuel between RAF bases in the area making the land an unattractive prospect for potential homebuilders.

Only a handful of buyers have contacted the council for information or employed solicitors to conduct searches.

Many remain unaware that some of the land is unsuitable for house building and that it is unlikely that planning permission will be granted.

Baron Deschauer remains unapologetic about his business.

"This is an investment in the future. People must understand that in the worst case scenario, this is a chunk of freehold land that will always be there… It can always be the basis of growth."

An expensive allotment

Local MP Patrick Mercer is working with the Council to find ways of changing the law to prevent agricultural land being sold on in this way.

They are trying to find ways to discourage potential purchasers from buying the land.

However if they want to put up signs warning buyers of the pitfalls, they will have to apply for planning permission.

"Buying land is not a gamble. It is not likely to increase in value significantly. One should think twice, maybe even three times about buying any land - especially agricultural."
Alasdair Morrison - local land agent

Property developers like Baron Deschauer aren't doing anything illegal and he stands to make a substantial sum if all plots are sold.

Baron Deschauer insists that the scheme's being marketed as an investment opportunity to own freehold land and purchasers are aware of the risks involved.

With the council adamant in their resolve to deny planning permission, investors will have to wait a very long time to see if they get a return on their money.

In the meantime all investors are left with is a very expensive allotment.

See also ...

Homes - Property

On the rest of the web
Land Registry
Newark and Sherwood District Council

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

This week's stories

The Pilgrims' Way
Take a journey on one of the South East's most historic routes.

Cornish tea
Inside Out goes behind the scenes at Cornwall's tea plantation.

Storm chasers
Join the storm chasers in search of Yorkshire's worst weather..

More from Inside Out

Inside Out: East Midlands
View the archive to see stories you may have missed.

BBC Where I Live

Find local news, entertainment, debate and more ...


Meet your
Inside Out
Go to our profile of Anne Davies (image: Anne Davies)

Anne Davies
your local Inside Out presenter.

Contact us
Contact the East Midlands team with the issues that affect you.

Free email updates

Keep in touch and receive your free and informative Inside Out updates.


Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Collin Edwards
with all i have read i agree it is speculative but with no available land to the public to buy to build other than the big companies that monopolise the land development and no opportunity for an every day guy like myself i tend to find the opportunity to buy a peice of land very tempting considering all borders are extending and the absolute lack of affordable housing it will only be a matter of time before it will receive some planning wheather 5-25 yrs and if you consider that i am tied to a morgage on a property that would be classed as staff quarters abroad, it is a good retirement plan with pensions being awful i see it as a reasonable investment, good luck to Mr deschauer as it seems he has found an investment no one has looked at properly before and we are on an island , in the end there is only so much land and considering huge swathes of greenbelt,agricultural and other land is being given planning by the goverment why shouldnt this get the planning at some point ?

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy