AN international property agency is marketing flats in what could become Croydon's tallest high rise to investors in the United Arab Emirates. The 43-storey tower is the final phase of the Saffron Square development on Wellesley Road. Some of its 414 flats went on sale in the UK for the first time last month and, like other high profile residential building projects in the borough, the properties are now being marketed overseas. According to the Khaleej Times, an English language newspaper in the UAE, estate agents Chesterton are holding marketing events today (Friday) and tomorrow at the Emirates Tower in Abu Dhabi. According to the article, prices for an apartment start at £162,000 (more than the developers Berkeley Homes announced last month) and the tower will be finished by "2016 onwards". Around 60 per cent of Saffron Square is aimed at the buy-to-let market and the development is factored into council plans to provide more than 20,000 new homes over the next 20 years, including 7,300 in the town centre. Some have voiced concern at the lack of affordable housing at this and other developments touted as "high-end living" and claim selling the suites overseas restricts buying and letting opportunities for people in Croydon. Saffron Square is not the first high profile building project in Croydon to be advertised across the globe. In April it emerged that flats in the IYLO building, a short walk along Wellesley Road, were being promoted to buyers in Hong Kong. The website of Centraline Property Agents said the development, which has stood half-finished on a roundabout for five years, was the ideal investment opportunity because investors can avoid stamp study. The Advertiser also revealed that the 20-storey tower had been purchased by Stephen Hung, a businessman originally from Hong Kong and owner of three hotels and two golf courses in the UK, through tax haven Jersey. Paul Scott, Labour's spokesman for planning, said at the time: "This is not an isolated example. It's appalling that some of the richest people in our society are able to have the benefits of owning property in this borough while contributing as little as possible to it. These loopholes have to be closed." Work has since resumed at what had become a dilapidated and graffiti-strewn building site after Mr Hung was able to negotiate a £900,000 reduction in the amount he has to pay to build affordable homes in Croydon. Saffron Square's tower will be Croydon's tallest building when it is completed in 2016, though it could be surpassed by the 55-storey development in Lansdowne Road and the 54-storey Menta scheme, which are both in the pipeline. Earlier this year leaked records from the British Virgin Islands tax haven revealed Israeli investors had bought offices in Croydon in 2009. Records within more than two million leaked e-mails show Israeli lawyer Yoram Yossifoff's Mydas Fund, based in Tel Aviv, bough Metro Point in Sydenham for £12 million, then leased the building to the Department for Transport for £920,000 a year until 2020.
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