To help achieve his objectives Mr Lane Fox says he has entered a joint venture with Sandby Ltd. This company is jointly owned by a Mr Patrick James and a Mr James Irwin. Mr Irwin is in fact Lord Irwin, son and heir of the Earl of Halifax, whose family control Halifax Estates, based at Bugthorpe, near Garrowby Hall, the Earl’s home in East Yorkshire.  

Mr James and Lord Irwin are joint equal shareholders and directors of a number of other companies. These include Sandby (Bardsey) Ltd, and Sandby (York) Ltd. This latter company has gone through three name changes – in 2016 the name was changed from Whinthorpe Development Ltd, and prior to 2015 it was known as Sandby Ltd, the name now being used for the Bardsey joint venture.

Whinthorpe was the name given to a proposed new town to be built on green belt land owned by Halifax Estates near Heslington village in York. Lord Irwin was the spokesman for the proposals, which met with significant local opposition. 

However dealing with contentious plans for change of use of land which transform agricultural green belt into prime residential sites (making huge capital profits in the process), is what Lord Irwin and his associates profit from.

Lord Irwin is also a director of Bobby Land Ltd a company registered at the Halifax Estate office. According to its website Bobby Land has the following profile “We purchase land and buildings in Greater London and North-East England that may be suitable for a change of use and specialize in securing planning permission and developing residential or mixed-use schemes. We are part of Halifax Estates a long-established UK family property business that owns a portfolio of residential, student, commercial and agricultural property”.

Bobby Land Ltd is not in fact part of Halifax Estates – Lord Irwin is the only director of the company and he and his wife Lady Georgia own all the shares in the company.

Mr James also has strong connections with and a background in land. He is descended from the Baring banking family, from which he owns Sleighthomedale Lodge and its farming interests in North Yorkshire. He is also a member of the Earl of Feversham’s family from Duncombe Park, Helmsley. His wife Natasha is the daughter of Duncan Davidson, founder of large housebuilder Persimmon Homes, and who is a grandson of the 15th Duke of Norfolk.  

Mr  James’ main business interest – the Landscape Agency – has produced strategic plans for a number of large estates, including Bramham Park. In 2013 Nick Lane Fox commissioned Landscape Agency to produce detailed site analyses of the Bardsey land, and other SHLAA sites in Bardsey being considered. It is the most recent analysis (internet link above) that probably underpins the Estates revised proposals to be presented on Oct 19th.