Homes firm misled buyers says report

PUBLISHED: 15:00 10 August 2001 | UPDATED: 15:16 03 March 2010

AN investigation into claims that homeowners on a Suffolk estate were mis-sold their properties has concluded that the developer's actions were misleading but not illegal.

P15 lead

By Tina Heath

AN investigation into claims that homeowners on a Suffolk estate were mis-sold their properties has concluded that the developer's actions were misleading but not illegal.

In a strongly worded letter Suffolk's Trading Standards assistant director David Baker told Bellway Homes that while no criminal offence appeared to have taken place at the Claydon Heights development he had serious concerns about the way properties had been sold and that he believed homeowners deserved compensated.

Residents of the development in Claydon had accused Bellway Homes of going back on a promise to turn an old chalk quarry on the site into a landscaped area open to the public. The application to build 21 homes on the quarry floor is under discussion by district councillors.

Bellway Homes claimed they were simply falling into line with revised central government directives calling for more building on brownfield sites and said today they felt vindicated by the investigation's conclusion.

However in a letter to Bellway Homes head office Mr Baker wrote: "Purchasers are likely to end up with a house and amenities that are significantly different than expected and described.

"It appears that some purchasers bought their properties partly because of the attraction of the open landscaped area which is now likely to disappear.

"I hope this will be considered seriously by Bellway Homes when discussions with disgruntled residents take place.

"I assume you are considering their views together with suitable and appropriate compensation for the amenity and aspect that is now likely to be taken away from them."

Bellway Homes Essex division managing director Keith Haddrell said he was not prepared to comment on issue of compensation but said he was "pleased, but not surprised to be vindicated by Trading Standards following their investigation."

He said: "Should our application be successful we be making significant contributions to the local community by way of providing affordable housing, making a contribution to local education and providing play equipment."

Should the planning application be approved the quarry floor will include "substantial" landscaping and will be "pleasing to the eye", he added.

Describing how officers came to their conclusions Mr Baker said that there was no evidence to prove that at the time Bellway were touting the attractive landscaped area to prospective buyers they had no intention of completing it.

As soon as the decision was made to apply for permission to build on the quarry, sales literature was altered appropriately.

What was exceptional about this case, as opposed to other scenarios where developers failed to fulfil a promise, was that the situation was completely under the control of Bellway, said Mr Baker.

Mr Baker added: "Any action we (trading standards) would have taken would have resulted in a fine. It would not have stopped the building."

Officers have recently received two further complaints from Claydon Heights residents and these are under investigation.

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