First, it should be noted that MANY of the Daily Telegraph’s readers are sitting in undeveloped housing plots!
Second, they don’t mention the company’s financial interest in nursing homes.
It’s a story they are pushing to attempt to get him out as he seems to be perceived as much too wimpy for the Telegraph on Brexit, but nevertheless it is a topical story, and throws up some interesting issues.
Naturally, Hammond says it is a blind trust so he’s not responsible for its decisions. However, companies have the option of behaving morally and responsibly, particularly if they are aware that their ultimate beneficial owner occupies a high-profile position where a possible potential conflict of interest will be magnified by the public gaze.
“A housebuilding business founded by Philip Hammond has been accused of sitting on an undeveloped plot of land which has been granted planning permission for four new homes.
Castlemead Limited, which was co-founded by the Chancellor in 1984, builds new homes and doctor’s surgeries.
It has been reported that Castlemead Group, which is majority-owned by the company, was granted permission to build four homes in north Wales in June 2010 on the condition work on the site would begin within five years.
However, The Times report that the site still remains undeveloped.
Mr Hammond resigned as a director of the company in 2010, but his sole entry in the most recent House of Commons’ MPs’ register makes reference to the fact that he is “a beneficiary of a trust which owns a controlling interest in Castlemead Ltd, a company engaged in construction, house building and property development”.
The revelation comes after Mr Hammond gave an interview with The Sunday Times this week, in which he hit out at house builders who are sitting on hundreds of thousands of undeveloped plots of land which have planning permission for new homes.
He said: “We are generating planning permissions at a record rate.“It’s builders banking land, it’s speculators hoarding land, it’s local authorities blocking development.”
Mr Hammond resigned as a director in 2010 and does not have any direct influence over the company’s activities.
A spokeswoman for Mr Hammond said: “Any shares in Castlemead are held in a trust. The chancellor has no direct influence or involvement and so is unable to comment.”
Castlemead did not respond to The Telegraph’s request for comment.”