Housing developer defends tax position

A COMPANY looking to develop a new housing estate in Ponteland has defended its tax position following criticism from a county MP.

Lugano Group was mentioned by Guy Opperman, who represents the area, in a Parliamentary debate a few weeks ago. He claimed that he could not find out who its real owners are, where its profits go or where it pays its taxes.

The MP for Hexham also said: “Sources tell me that the beneficiary of the trust is a Jewish organisation based in Lugano, Switzerland, and clearly, as a result, it would not be liable for any taxation in this country.”

He has since agreed to meet with the firm to go through the issues raised and in advance of this, it has released a statement saying it pays all its corporation tax in the UK.

Earlier this year, Lugano Group unveiled plans for 280 properties at Birney Hill to the south west of the Darras Hall Estate.

It also owns a considerable amount of land on the Dissington Estate.

The statement adds: ‘We are a significant employer in the region with 76 locally-based staff and currently have schemes either in development or under construction with a value approaching £30million. These projects will create further economic benefits as well as several hundred new jobs in addition to those directly within the group.

‘All our business and property assets are in the UK and the North-East in particular. Lugano has a number of subsidiary companies that are also registered in the UK and (like the Guernsey-registered parent company) are subject to the UK tax regime, as are all our staff.’

A Ponteland Green Belt Group has been set up to oppose any development in the green-belt area surrounding the village and Darras Hall. Banks Group announced in the summer that it is looking to bring forward a scheme at Clickemin Farm that would see up to 500 new homes built on both sides of the A696.