Scots fraudster who drives Rolls-Royce at center of £25million planning row in exclusive suburb

A fraudster who drives around in a Rolls-Royce is at the center of a £25million planning row in one of Scotland’s most exclusive suburbs.

An application has been made for a large estate of 44 homes to be built around Liberty Durant’s opulent mansion on green belt land in Bothwell, Lanarkshire – sparking complaints from well-heeled neighbours.

The request comes three years after Durant was slapped with a 10-year directorship ban and a suspended prison sentence for carrying out a £700,000 fraud while already banned from being a company director.

He has been described in the past as a “likeable rogue” and likes to drive Bentleys, Ferraris, as well as other supercars.

Durant’s home in Bothwell

But many of his business ventures have been catastrophic – with some firms running up millions of pounds of debt before liquidation, leaving some creditors in crisis.

One resident in Bothwell’s Laighlands Road said: “Libby Durant has been hellbent on developing the land around his home for years and is a man who rides roughshod over planning regulations.

“He tends to erect buildings then fight it out with planners for retrospective permission afterwards.”

The neighbor added: “He has always driven fancy cars but the latest Rolls-Royce takes the biscuit. It’s not bad for a guy who has left massive debts and creditors trailing in his wake from him.

The family of Durant – who currently drives a Rolls-Royce Dawn convertible, worth upwards of £300,000 – has owned the green belt land around his home for many years.

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But ownership of the 11-acre plot recently transferred to a company formed in 2019 – Beechtree Wright Ltd. Its sole director is Elaine Smith, who manages Durant’s Beech Tree Park in Denny, Stirlingshire.

Liberty Durant with his Rolls-Royce
Liberty Durant with his Rolls-Royce

Smith is also the sole director of Bothwell Land and Developments Ltd, which was formed last year and is the official applicant for the Bothwell planning development.

Several neighbors of Durant, 73, are enraged by plans for the “major development” of houses and flats for the green belt land, which sits on a flood plain.

Objections to South Lanarkshire Council center on flood risks and claim the roads that connect to the center of the conservation village are already too congested.

The plans have also received supportive statements, with local estate agents emphasizing the shortage of housing in the area.

One neighbor said: “It’s noticeable most submissions to planners from Bothwell people are objections while most of the supporting statements come from people who don’t live anywhere near the village.”

The application comes three years after Durant was given a second 10-year ban from being a director after being caught in a £700,000 fraud.

He was also given a two-year suspended prison sentence after being found to be acting as a director while disqualified.

Beech Tree Park, owned by Durant
Beech Tree Park, owned by Durant

Lincoln Crown Court heard how investigators caught Durant plotting to put his assets out of the reach of creditors.

It involved a forged sales contract that falsely made Duran out as the owner of caravans he had never paid a penny for.

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At the time he was serving a separate six-year directorship ban for conduct related to another company collapse.

In Bothwell, Durant has erected buildings and fences without permission then seeking retrospective consent.

He angered neighbors in 2003 when he drained a pond, off Laighlands Road, and was then granted planning permission to build his luxury home at the old Laighlands Stables.

During further upset residents two years later when he put up four container units close to his house without proper planning permission, which he later obtained retrospectively.

In 2012, residents at a block of flats his company built had their street lighting cut off after a council probe found his builders had illegally wired the lighting into the public electricity supply.

Smith said: “I have absolutely no comment to make.”

Durant was approached for comment but failed to get back to us.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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