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Big firms squeeze locals out of Scottish homes development

INDUSTRY leaders are warning that small builders are being forced out of business by large firms that snap up the best development sites in north-east Scotland.

Two Aberdeen-based house builders, Country Life Estates and Stewart Estates, have collapsed after failing to make a return on new developments. And the failures have prompted concerns that small firms are being squeezed out of profitable sites and forced to make-do with unsuitable areas.

Graham Barn, director of the Federation of Master Builders for Scotland, said: 'Aberdeen has historically been a hot-spot for development, mainly due to the oil economy up there. But there is a blight going on, which is in line with problems across the whole of Scotland.

'There are vast areas of land in Aberdeen that have been deemed for development in the local structure plan but the developers can't get properties connected to the infrastructure.

'The larger companies have scooped up the best sites, which they can afford to sit on. Smaller companies are having to make the investment in infrastructure themselves or move to another site.

'These are often in areas where they wouldn't usually develop and people don't want to buy in. It's a worrying situation as some firms work exclusively for small developers.'

The two companies that collapsed were both registered to Denis Stewart. Country Life is now being liquidated by KPMG and Stewart Estates is in receivership with PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC said that it was unlikely that any of the firms' creditors would get their money back.

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