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Letter: The Council Should Tell the Chinese Investment in Guildford Property is Not Wanted

Published on: 8 Oct, 2017
Updated on: 8 Oct, 2017

From Gordon Bridger

Hon Alderman and former Mayor of Guildford

I am intrigued by our borough council’s  proposal to link with the Chinese town of Dongying. I turned to Wikipedia for an account of it. It has a population of two million, was founded only in 1983, has the second largest oil refinery in China, “more tyre factories than any other city in the world”, and the largest chemical factory ever funded abroad by Dupont, the US chemical giant.

As for trade? What on earth could we offer them?

Well there are two things of great value. Houses and security. Wealthy Chinese are buying houses and apartments over the world, in London, Manchester and Sheffield, paying at least 35% over current prices. Great resentment is resulting as huge numbers of houses escalate in price and often lie unused. Several British estate agents are now established in China selling houses in Britain.

So what could be more appealing to Chinese investors than a special link with Guildford, and its university? Houses will seem cheap and they would expect to receive a warm welcome from us.

If only 100 Chinese investors decided to buy houses in Guildford our already overpriced houses would increase in value even further. This would be detrimental to our economy and make it even more difficult to attract the younger workers we need to keep our it going.

House prices and scarcity are our most serious problems. To embark on a linking arrangement which could be interpreted as one that will encourage investment in housing (or land) would be highly irresponsible.

Is there a solution? Yes.

The council, and indeed the university, should make it quite clear as soon as possible to the Chinese, and indeed other foreign investors, that we have a serious housing problem and that purchasing houses would make it worse and would be very unpopular.

Other types of investment which entail job creation and were high-tech would be welcome. Dongying has a university which specialises in petroleum engineering. Maybe they could explore the Surrey Hills for rich oil-fields which may be below them?

I believe that the development of the university is important to the future of Guildford and the university needs to make it clear that there are certain types of investment which would be helpful and others which would not.

However, this is a national problem. We should propose to our MP that she urges the government to control this type of harmful investment. I am told that under World Trade Organisation rules there are ways of doing this.

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Responses to Letter: The Council Should Tell the Chinese Investment in Guildford Property is Not Wanted

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    October 9, 2017 at 12:26 am

    The curse of allowing any foreigners to invest in our housing market and leave them empty should be stamped on with the largest boot around. I am led to believe multiple houses across the south are lying empty brought by foreigners as an investment, not for use as homes within our own communities.

    Put simply any property when purchased should be occupied by the buyer on a permanent basis, we simply do not have the land water or infrastructure to have houses lying empty then make the claim we need to build more because the houses already built cannot be occupied. It is madness.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    October 9, 2017 at 9:11 am

    I thoroughly support my colleague, Hon Alderman Gordon Bridger, and I would also go on to say that there has been no public consultation on such a matter.

    It is a matter which will have an effect on all the people of our borough.

    Bernard Parke is a Hon Alderman and former Mayor of Guildford.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 9, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    There is certainly a solution to the ‘buy to leave’ phenomenon.

    British Columbia and Ontario in Canada had just this issue, and have imposed a high tax on such investments. This has caused the foreign property speculators to look elsewhere for softer targets, such as the UK.

    This can only be resolved by central government. However, GBC will not help, if they go ahead with this ill-advised jolly, which will give the impression that Guildford is open for speculation.

  4. Mary Older Reply

    October 9, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with the points put forward in the letters from Gordon Bridger, Jim Allen and Bernard Parke. I would like to add that they have more respect and concern for us Guildford residents than any of the Guildford Borough councillors.

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