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Prince Charles’s property deals with millionaire Tory peer under investigation


Plans by Britain's Prince Charles to build 770 eco-homes stalled due to a lack of demand. Photo: Reuters

Plans by Britain's Prince Charles to build 770 eco-homes stalled due to a lack of demand. Photo: Reuters

Plans by Britain's Prince Charles to build 770 eco-homes stalled due to a lack of demand. Photo: Reuters

A series of property deals involving Britain’s Prince Charles and a multi-millionaire Tory peer is being investigated by a charity watchdog.

Havisham Properties, which is owned by recruitment tycoon David Brownlow, spent £1.7m (€1.9m) between 2012 and 2017 buying 11 houses in Knockroon, Ayrshire, from a subsidiary of the Prince’s Trust.

Original plans by the Prince of Wales to build 770 eco-homes in the former mining community, stalled due to a lack of demand.

Only 31 of the planned properties had ever been completed.

In 2013 Mr Brownlow, a major Tory donor, was appointed a trustee of the Prince’s Foundation.

Later that year he held his 50th birthday party at Dumfries House, the Palladian mansion close to Knockroon bought by Charles for £20m (€23m) in 2007.

Four years ago, after resigning as a trustee of the Prince’s Foundation, Mr Brownlow was made a Commander of the Victorian Order (CVO) receiving the honour from Charles in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has confirmed it is investigating Havisham’s decision to buy up the unwanted properties in Knockroon.

A spokesman said: “We can confirm that the work of Havisham Group and property transactions relating to the Knockroon development in Ayrshire forms part of our overall investigation, work on which is ongoing.”

Mr Brownlow – whose wealth is estimated at £271m (€314m) – hit the headlines last year when it emerged that he had helped fund the refurbishment of UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat.

He was also recently reported to have been linked to plans to potentially fund a £150,000 (€174,000) treehouse for the prime minister’s son.

In 2012 Mr Brownlow’s property company began bailing out the Knockroon development by buying up some of the unwanted houses and converting them into buy-to-lets and a cafe. The eco-village – built on farmland bought by Charles when he purchased Dumfries House – had been intended to boost the local economy by championing sustainable architecture and attracting people to the area.

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But by 2015, Hope Homes, the developer working with the Prince’s Foundation, had withdrawn from the project.

Plans to complete all 770 properties have now been abandoned.

Havisham Properties is understood to have spent  £1.7m buying up 11 houses on the site.

While other properties were purchased on behalf of Dumfries House and are now let out to staff who work at the nearby estate.

The Prince’s Foundation did not declare any of the sales as “related party transactions”.

That is a standard procedure intended to demonstrate that the trustees knew the deals involved someone with existing links to the charity.

A spokesman for the Prince’s Foundation said: “Lord Brownlow was appointed CVO in 2018 in recognition of his role of chair of the charity The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community.”

Mr Brownlow’s own charitable foundation has donated millions of pounds to a variety of causes, including Macmillan Cancer Support and the National Association for the Children of Alcoholics. (©Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

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