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Chinese state is behind a zero affordable housing development in Bristol

City

And they’re “minimising” taxes.

 

The Cable can reveal that the Chinese government is behind a planned zero-affordable housing development in Broadmead.

The company behind Broadmead and Cabot Circus shopping centre, Bristol Alliance Limited Partnership (BALP), has submitted a major application to the council to redevelop the area. The application includes 150 housing units, but not a single house is allocated for below market rent, despite council policy aiming for 40% of units to be “affordable” in the area.

Through a rabbit warren (see graphic) of connected companies, BALP is owned by the People’s Bank of China, the Chinese state’s central bank. BALP is also owned by British corporation Hammerson PLC and French insurance giant AXA, who each recorded massive profits in 2015 of £730 million and £5.6 billion respectively, after tax.

Furthermore according to documents unearthed by the Cable, the string of companies connected to BALP include multiple entities based in the notorious tax haven of Luxembourg. The attitude to tax is clearly laid out in some documents where it is stated that “the group has been structured to minimise income tax in the jurisdictions where members of the group operate”.

Despite having a world superpower and two multinational corporations behind it and a minimal tax bill, the development application has been put forward with zero affordable housing, on the basis that they won’t make enough profit, making the development technically “unviable” in planning terms. Claiming lack of viability is the routine method that developers use to get out contributing affordable housing, despite reaping huge profits on such developments. Such claims by developers will add to the mounting energy and frustration around the housing crisis.

“Does anyone truly believe that the Chinese state, a French investment fund and a UK publicly listed company are investing in Bristol property as a charitable enterprise?” George Turner, researcher with the Tax Justice Network and investigative journalist said. “The proposition is absurd and any councillor in their right mind should reject such a proposal.”

Nick Ballard of ACORN community union said “We’re seeing multi-million and multi-billion pound companies lie through their teeth and say they can’t afford to build the housing we need. Well, they can jog on then. We don’t want them. If the second biggest economy in the world and multinational corporations can’t help BALP put in an application compliant with Council policy then it must be rejected. And for that to happen, we the people of Bristol need to stand up and demand it.  ACORN is leading the fight for affordable housing in Bristol and will take that fight to the Government if we have to. Unlike these companies we don’t have unlimited financial resources but we do have people! The more who join our fight, the sooner we’ll be able to win the housing we need.”

Find out more about the planning application here using planning reference number 16/06594/P.

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  • Also, just like the now hated PFI on a global scale, if we take “inward investment” for these projects it means all the profit from that will go abroad making our balance of trade is even worse and the pound becomes worth even less abroad. And what is the energy efficiency like, so we waste less resources in the longer term? Sustainable housing developments should be UK led (ideally from publicly owned housing corporations) and energy efficient – it’s common sense.

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