PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
Despite the problems I managed to make a start on the piece you’re about to read. It’s yet another tale of money from north west England – possibly further afield – buying property in northern Wales. And as is so often the case, when you look more closely into what’s happening, and who’s involved, then the more questions arise.
An interesting property, Gwynfryn Plas, aka Plas Gwynfryn, near Llanystumdwy, on the Llŷn peninsula. Due to both forms being used I shall stick with ‘Gwynfryn’.
It was home to Hugh John Ellis-Nanney, scion of an anglicised Welsh gentry family. Educated at Eton and Oxford, and now the owner of a sizeable estate, Ellis-Nanney wanted a house to reflect his status, and so Gwynfryn was completed in 1878.
Persuaded to stand in the 1890 by-election for Caernarvon Boroughs, Conservative Ellis-Nanney was defeated by the Liberal candidate, up and coming local boy, David Lloyd George.
With Ellis-Nanney having no male heir the estate passed to his daughter, and after her death Gwynfryn served a number of purposes, finally a hotel, before being gutted by fire in 1982.
From around 2010 reports appeared in the media bemoaning the fact that the old pile was in such a mess, with no one knowing who owned it. Here’s one report from the BBC in October 2011.
In the report you will have read, “Aaron Hill, who lives near Caernarfon, wants to take over and renovate the property, which was gutted by fire in 1982”. Hang on! – Aaron Hill?
Yes, the very same Aaron Hill who bought 4 Glanrafon Terrace, near Bryn Llys, and then ‘loaned’ fraudster Jonathan Duggan the money to buy the land attached to the house. Done so Duggan could extend his holding and lay an unauthorised access road. (Bryn Llys is now called ‘Snowdon Summit View’.)
Which landed Duggan in court. I wrote about it a few weeks ago in Bryn Llys, the Liverpool connection.
From 2010 onwards there were also regular mentions of Gwynfryn in page-fillers often headed ‘Buildings at risk’ until, in 2018, we started reading that the charred old pile was for sale, with an asking price of £500,000.
Let’s get up to date.
WHO OWNS WHAT?
The original title document states that in April 1980 a couple named Hooper sold what remained of the Gwynfryn estate to Global Leisure Ltd. In 1995 it was transferred to Magnet International Holdings Ltd, a Guernsey-registered company. Magnet was compulsorily struck off in 2006.
UPDATE 19.10.2020: From Companies House in Guernsey I have now received more information on Magnet International Holdings Ltd. As might be expected with Channel Islands registrations, it’s just one company hiding behind another.
The shareholders are all companies using the name ‘Bachmann’ followed by a different Greek letter. Possibly this Peter John Bachmann.
But, strangely, no mention of Philip Bush, who has owned the property throughout this period.
If we carry on reading the title document we see that in June 2018: “Copy filed under CYM745545. 4 (28.06.2018) The land edged . . . has been removed from this title and registered under the title number . . . “ The property description has been altered to reflect the land alone remaining in the original title.
And confirming that the house is now registered under CYM745545, and owned by Aaron Hill. Who is said to have paid £100,000 for the ruin.
Unfortunately, the Land Registry does not offer maps with either title.
A MAN OF THE WORLD
Leaving the land around the house owned by Philip Andrew Bush, using as his address a PO box in Switzerland. Bush may be a successor to Magnet International Holdings.
He seems to be an interesting character, though getting information on him is not easy. Largely because he operates through foreign and offshore companies. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Bush is mentioned in the Paradise Papers.
Where he’s linked with Realmar Shipping Limited of Malta, as both director and judicial representative. If you have time, click on the J B Sorotto node, with its 74 connections.
The address given for Bush Shipping is 77 Walton Street, Chelsea. Since 2008 it has been home to Jak’s Cafe & Deli.
Of perhaps more interest is this Annual Return (to Companies House) from 2006. The other directors appear to be his daughters, but it’s the division of the 10,000 shares I found interesting. For Bush has just one share in his name, the other 9,999 are held by International Nominees SA, with an address in Switzerland.
Though the Paradise Papers tell us that International Nominees SA is actually based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). In fairness, I suppose the company could have moved since that document was filed with Companies House in 2006.
So, the man who owns the land around Gwynfryn is involved in shipping and a network – or networks – of offshore companies.
We know the house and the land were owned under one title by Philip Andrew Bush, who may or may not have been a successor to the companies that had earlier owned the property, Global Leisure and Magnet International Holdings.
A number of reports from 2018/19 suggested that the house and the land were for sale together. This Facebook page tells us that someone believed this was still the case as late as November 2019.
Yet, as we’ve seen, the house was detached from the original title, and that new title bought by Aaron Hill 12 June 2018. So why did people over a year later think the house and land were still for sale?
And as if that wasn’t enough ducking and weaving, ‘now you see me, now you don’t’, who’s that over in the trees, in camouflage fatigues, watching Gwynfryn through his high powered binoculars? Well, bless me! – it’s Bore Grylls!
Because the address for Bore’s Dragon Raiders Activity Park is ‘Gwynfryn Lodge’. In addition, he owns a tract of woodland that belonged to the original estate.
Grylls is always looking to buy more of Wales so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s interested in buying the Gwynfryn land from Philip Bush. This would be one explanation for why it’s no longer for sale.
Which leaves the house, or what remains of it. Is Grylls also after that?
Because I’m still not clear why Aaron Hill bought Gwynfryn. I’m pretty sure he has neither the expertise nor the money to restore it. In fact, he may have no intention of restoring Gwynfryn.
Though others appear to have plans for Gwynfryn.
SALT AND VINEGAR
For last year Cyngor Gwynedd received a pre-application enquiry to turn the old house into “30 residential units”. The inquiry came from Partington & Associates Ltd of Chorley, Lancashire, on behalf of DM Property Group Ltd.
(What I’m referring to with this ‘enquiry’ is an approach from a developer to gauge the planning authority’s likely response; with the response influencing whether a planning application is submitted.)
Partington seems to be a genuine company, it’s certainly been going for a few years. Though the information available with Companies House is pretty skeletal it does tell us that a director of Partington, who owns 50% of the shares, is David George Taylor.
Taylor turns up again as a director of DM Property Group. There’s little information available on DM Property because it was only formed in August 2019. Though Companies House can tell us that the other director is Michelle May Sturdy, who shares an address with Taylor.
An even more recent creation of Taylor and Sturdy is DM Commercial Property Group Ltd. Formed in June this year.
When she’s not planning property empires with David Taylor it seems Michelle Sturdy runs the local chippy.
So David Taylor of Partington & Associates has put in a pre-planning enquiry for himself and his other company, DM Property Group. Why couldn’t it have been done through DM Property?
To help you along here’s the council’s reply to Partington from November last year and here’s a notice that Partington, on behalf of DM Property, is going ahead with the planning application. The second document handily provides a link to drawings and other documentation.
If we follow the road connecting the Plas with the highway we see that it runs through Cabin Wood and on to the lodge or gatehouse, owned by the maggot-munching man of action.
It could be that given Hill’s links with the Duggan gang at Bryn Llys, and the notoriety they’ve attracted, he might have thought he had more chance of getting planning approval for 30 residential units at Gwynfryn if the application came from someone else.
Another possibility is that a deal has been struck, conditional on planning permission being granted. By which I mean, DM Property will buy Gwynfryn from Hill but only if it gets planning permission.
What other reasons might there be for a company to submit a planning application for a property it doesn’t own? I’m open to suggestions.
Of course, there is the possibility that what’s planned for the old house forms part of a bigger project. Which is why I raised the possibilty of Bore Grylls being involved.
I’m not suggesting for one minute that Grylls would be involved in anything shady, but who can forget his ill-starred association with Gavin Lee Woodhouse at the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
Woodhouse, the self-styled ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’, came to a sticky end when his empire – built on selling rooms in his hotels as ‘investments’, also rooms in care homes that he never bothered building – was exposed last year.
I first wrote about the dynamic duo as early as April 2017, with English Tourism in the Colony of Wales. And many times afterwards. Many, many times.
Having been taken in by a con man I suppose we should be thankful Grylls is still with us. For it’s surely a miracle he survived all those SAS missions when instantly recognising and taking out the bad guys is a matter of life or death.
(Big sigh of relief! Touches wood.)
UPDATE 30.09.2020: I regret to inform you that Bore Grylls is no longer involved with Dragon Raiders at Llanystumdwy. Such a pity, as I enjoy writing about him. However . . .
A source tells me that those behind the Gwynfryn project are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong.
Where we find find Armstrong and Wilmott together is in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd, a company Incorporated as recently as last September.
My source further suggests that these two whizz-kids may have learnt all they know from motormouth Samuel Leeds. In this video we see Leeds talking with – or to – David Taylor of Partington & Associates and DM Property Group.
It’s said that Wilmott and Armstrong have exchanged contracts with Aaron Hill conditional on Taylor getting planning permission.
The picture at Gwynfryn is not yet high definition but definitely getting clearer. And if Armstrong and Wilmott are offering investment opportunities to foreign investors then, who knows, Gwynfryn could soon be owned by men with fur hats and snow on their boots!
‘Oh what a tangled web we weave . . . ‘.
Cyngor Gwynedd’s planners will no doubt insist that planning law must be adhered to. That’s their job. Though some of them have, in recent years, been far too zealous in accommodating ‘developers’.
So how is it likely to pan out?
The council’s planning officers will probably recommend that the planning committee (made up of councillors) approves the application for 30 residential units at Gwynfryn. I expect the committee to reject the recommendation and refuse planning permission.
The applicant(s) may at that stage appeal. If so, it becomes the responsibility of the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ to appoint an inspector to review the case and come to a decision that may over-rule the council planning committee.
This is where the farce turns into a charade. Because the ‘Welsh Government’ has no authority over the Planning Inspectorate. The Planning Inspectorate is run from London and invariably makes decisions against the Welsh national interest.
The bottom line is that we are helpless in the face of the onslaught represented by planning applications like this turning us into strangers in our own country. Helpless bystanders as Wales becomes England’s playground.
Even so . . .
It must be established who owns Gwynfryn.
What must also be established is the relationship between Aaron Hill, Partington & Associates / DM Property, Samuel Leeds, James Armstrong and Anthony Wilmott, and anyone else who might still be lurking in the shadows.
Also, the ownership of the land formerly linked with the house needs to be clarified, not least because so many offshore owners have been involved in the past. There is also the possibility that the plan for the Plas may be part of something bigger.
Let’s have the truth. Something so often absent from planning applications in Wales.
As I’ve said more than once . . . what passes for the UK economy is whatever best suits the City of London; that island unto itself floating on a cess-pit of corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance.
In Wales we see the ripples from the cess-pit in the form of crooks and shysters turning up looking for something to buy in order to launder money, or an address from which to operate shell companies.
(I’m not talking now of the Gwynfryn application but of countless other stories I’ve brought you over the years.)
Yet if devolution was what it pretends to be, if those in Corruption Bay were what they want us to believe they are, then this application at Llanystumdwy wouldn’t even get past the pre-application enquiry stage.
For the applicants would be told, ‘No, we don’t need this development because it offers nothing to the local area or to Wales other than further colonisation. Consequently, there is no point in you submitting a full planning application. Goodbye’.
It’s because we can’t do this that I don’t want to hear any more nonsense about “Making devolution work”, or that things would be so much better if only there was a different party managing the show.
Devolution is not supposed to ‘work’ for Wales; it is a purely cosmetic measure. Designed to give the Labour Party opportunities for cronyism and patronage, and Plaid Cymru a “Pocket money parliament”. (© N. McEvoy.)
Which is why it’s futile to try tinkering with devolution. Only independence can solve our problems and prevent Wales being completely assimilated into England.
And time is short.
♦ end ♦