Lowry’s ‘worthless’ land worth up to €6.7m

An agent handling Michael Lowry’s “worthless” property investment in England said a buyer would do well to acquire it for less than €6.7m.

The agent was contacted by the Irish Examiner, posing as a potential buyer for the 22-acre tract on the outskirts of Wigan.

He said the property was unlikely to be included in a proposed employment park, but believed it would get permission for residential use in the future.

An indicative offer of £300,000 an acre for the developable portion of the site was put to the agent. He said it was in the region of what was acceptable in a poor market.

“[With the £300,000 offer], you are talking about development of 12 [houses] to the acre... So you are talking about £25,000 a plot which, let’s be honest about it, that is cheap. If you can get it for £300,000 an acre you are doing well.

“But everything has got a price,” he said.

When the agent was contacted later to explain the true context of the original call, he said there was an agricultural value of £4,000 an acre (€110,000 in total) but, as with any investment, there was a speculative “hope value” linked to its likely rezoning.

The Bury-based agent has worked on behalf of Mr Lowry’s property company for a number of years, and was involved in previous attempts to redevelop the land and had a detailed knowledge of the site. He also works for other neighbouring landowners and recently engaged Walshingham consultants to make proposals for the area.

He said 18 of the 22 acres jointly owned by Mr Lowry and Liam Carroll were suitable for development and had road access to an adjoining estate.

Mr Lowry defended his decision not to include the property in his register of member’s interest. This requires all land worth more than €13,000 to be listed.

The Independent TD said until it was rezoned the land was worthless.

“[The land] is valueless, because it has no status at the moment. It’s not agricultural. It’s actually zoned green belt,” he said.

A Wigan Council report said the wider land bank is of poor quality but it is arable and “used for grazing and keeping horses”.

Mr Lowry has highlighted a statement from a Wigan Council official who said the site would not be part of the proposed employment park.

In September, the key adjoining landowners put a proposal to Wigan Council for the whole area to be included in plans for 2,300 houses. The submission said the other landowners were in favour of development. Mr Lowry did not comment.

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