A hospital charity is appealing to a government inspector to overturn a planning decision but for a building it no longer owns and which it sold to a shell company registered offshore.
Arthur Stanley House is a former out patients department in Tottenham Street, Fitzrovia, and has been disused since it was closed 10 years ago. The building was owned by University College London Hospitals NHS Trust which then sold it to its charitable partner University College London Hospitals Charity.
UCLH Charity was refused planning permission by Camden Council in June 2015 to convert the building into a mostly office development after community groups successfully argued that the proposal did not conform to the council’s planning guidance. A planning brief states the site should be used for housing including affordable housing.
UCLH Charity then sold all its interest in the building to a company registered in Jersey.
Fitzrovia News understands that UCLH Charity has entered into an arrangement with this company whose owners are not publicly known and is seeking to appeal the decision to refuse the planning application.
Now a planning inspector will hold a hearing later this year at the request of UCLH Charity before making a decision on whether Camden Council was right to refuse the application.
In the paperwork submitted as part of the appeal UCLH Charity state:
“On 13 November 2015, 1921 Mortimer Investment Limited (“1921 MIL”) and 1922 Mortimer Investment Limited purchased all of UCLHC’s interests in and title to the Property from UCLHC,” and that “UCLHC has appointed 1921 MIL as its agent for the purposes of this appeal.”
Documents from the registry in Jersey state that 1921 Mortimer Investments Limited is actually owned by a company called “45 Fitzrovia LLC” which is registered in Delaware in the United States and another company called “F9 Channel Islands Masterco Limited” registered in Jersey. Both Delaware and Jersey are secrecy jurisdictions and the actual owners of 1921 Mortimer Investments Limited is therefore unknown.
Yet UCLH Charity has entered into an arrangement to secure planning permission for the shell company and have appointed its unknown owners to represent them at the appeal held by a British government inspector.
In a letter written by Peter Burroughs, enterprise director of UCLH Charity, to 1921 Mortimer Investments Limited he addresses the owners as “Dear Sirs”, presumably because he either doesn’t know who he is dealing with or wants to protect their identity.
In a statement to Fitzrovia News, Burroughs said:
“UCLH Charity filed the original application for planning permission in early 2015. The property was sold in 2015 after the application was decided but before the time limit for appeal had lapsed. The new owners wish to appeal the decision and UCLH Charity has authorised the new owners to file an appeal in their name. This is normal legal procedure so that the new owners can take on the appeal. There has been no financial arrangement over and above the sale itself.”
According to accounts published last year, UCLH Charity’s interest in Arthur Stanley House had a value of over £10m.
While the new owners of the building are currently unknown, new legislation announced by the government this month promises to require any foreign company that wants to buy UK property to join a new public register of beneficial ownership information before they can do so. The register will include companies who already own property in the UK, not just those wishing to buy.
UCLH Charity is no stranger to dealing with companies registered offshore. In 2012 it sold buildings housing hospital staff to a property developer registered in Guernsey. Shortly after the sale was completed the hospital staff were evicted and the buildings redeveloped.