Hedge fund manager risking Jura Island water supply by building hostel

Villagers on remote Hebridean isle of Jura accuse wealthy Australian hedge fund manager nicknamed the ‘Wizard of Oz’ of endangering their water supply by building 40-bed hostel for workers to service his 12,000-acre estate

  • Greg Coffey, 51, bought the Ardfin Estate on the isle of Jura in the Inner Hebrides in 2010 for £1.2million
  • He has been given permission to build the ‘essential’ staff accommodation in the village of Craigshouse 
  • But residents say their water supply, sewage and health services are already ‘stretched beyond capacity’
  • The island recorded a population of 196 in 2011 which will be increased by a fifth when the blocks are finished 

Villagers on a remote Hebridean isle of Jura have accused a wealthy Australian hedge fund manager nicknamed the ‘Wizard of Oz’ of endangering their water supply by building a 40-bed hostel for the staff who work on his 12,000-acre estate. 

Greg Coffey has been given permission to build the ‘essential’ accommodation four miles away from his hotel and golf course on the isle of Jura in the Inner Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. 

The financier, 51, bought the Ardfin Estate for £1.2million in 2010 and has spent around £50million transforming Jura House into a five-star, 17-bedroom hotel. 

The new accommodation block in Craigshouse, the island’s main settlement, is due to be completed in April 2023. 

Australian hedge fund manager Greg Coffey, who is nicknamed ‘the Wizard of Oz’, has been accused of endangering limited resources on a remote Scottish Island

The financier, 51, bought the Ardfin Estate (pictured) for £1.2million in 2010 and has spent around £50million transforming Jura House into a five-star, 17-bedroom hotel

The new accommodation block in Craigshouse, the island’s main settlement, is due to be completed in April 2023

Mr Coffey has also built a £20million, 18-hole golf course on the Ardfin Estate since his purchase (pictured in 2017)

The Jura Hotel and Isle of Jura distillery, where its ‘distinctive and world-renowned’ single-malt whiskey is made a short distance away

The hotel contains two bars, a restaurant, lounge and a five-bedroom house for its owners and staff accommodation 

The island, which is 29 miles long and seven miles wide in some places, recorded only 196 inhabitants in the 2011 census, meaning the new development will increase its total population by a fifth. 

Residents said their ferry services, water, sewage, and health resources are already ‘stretched beyond capacity’ and have objected to the plans submitted to Argyll and Bute council. 

They added that the ferry frequently breaks down and the island has a ‘fragile’ water supply and single-track roads that are in poor condition.

An aerial view of the hotel, which boasts ‘a superb prominent position with open views over Small Isles Bay’ from its coastal position

Mr Coffey’s purchase of Ardfin Estate attracted controversy from the start, due to his decision to close its public gardens, which had attracted 2,500 visitors a year as a significant source of income for the island. Pictured: Hotel bedroom

The Jura Hotel (left) pictured alongside the adjacent distillery where its famed whiskey, popular with former Prime Minister David Cameron, is produced

The island, which is 29 miles long and seven miles wide in some places, recorded only 196 inhabitants in the 2011 census, meaning the new development will increase its total population by a fifth

Coffey announced his retirement in 2012 to spend more time with his family, but has a portfolio of luxury properties dotted all over the world (pictured with Ania Coffey in 2016)

Jura Island is famed for its white sands and single-malt whiskey produced in the island’s distillery and favoured by former Prime Minister David Cameron

The island is home to where author George Orwell (pictured) lived when he wrote his famed novel 1984. above, he is pictured in 1943

One islander told The Telegraph: ‘Our broadband is poor, we have limited mains water supply, and other council services are over stretched. 

The ‘Wizard of Oz’ hedge fund trader who built up cult following after making  reputed £430m in the City

Greg Coffey was nicknamed ‘The Wizard of Oz’ after making a reputed £430m as a young City trader. 

Mr Coffey graduated with a degree in actuarial studies from Sydney’s Macquarie University and started trading emerging-market equity derivatives in 1994 at Bankers Trust Corp, which was bought by Deutsche Bank AG in 1999.   

The Australian first rose to fame when he walked away from a $250million (£156million) golden handcuffs deal in 2008 before building up a cult following in the financial markets because of the extraordinary success of the £3.5billion ’emerging market’ funds he ran. 

His obsessional style meant he would have his trading terminals flown to his hotel wherever he was on holiday, then re-assembled to allow him to trade through the night while his wife and children slept. 

Mr Coffey has mansions in London and Sydney, and bought the sprawling Ardfin estate in the Hebridean Island of Jura in 2008 when it was on the market for £3.5million.

‘Our out-of-hours medical service is precarious and policing on the island is occasional at best.’

But architects from GCA Design, acting on behalf of the estate, said staff had been living in temporary ‘pods’ which were not a long-term accommodation solution. 

They said building the new hostel in Craigshouse was the only viable option so the staff could have space from their workplace. 

Mr Coffey has also built a £20million, 18-hole golf course on the estate since his purchase.  

His purchase of Ardfin Estate attracted controversy from the start, due to his decision to close its public gardens, which had attracted 2,500 visitors a year as a significant source of income for the island. 

Mr Coffey was nicknamed ‘The Wizard of Oz’ after making a reputed £430million as a young City trader.

At the height of his career, he would have his trading terminals flown to his hotel wherever he was on holiday, then re-assembled to allow him to trade through the night while his wife and children slept.

The Australian first rose to fame when he walked away from a $250million (£156million) golden handcuffs deal in 2008 before building up a cult following in the financial markets because of the extraordinary success of the £3.5billion ’emerging market’ funds he ran.

He announced his retirement in 2012 to spend more time with his family, but has a portfolio of luxury properties dotted all over the world.

Jura Island is famed for its white sands and single-malt whiskey produced in the island’s distillery and favoured by former Prime Minister David Cameron.

It was singled-out by George Orwell as a remote retreat to write Nineteen Eighty-Four – after doctors hoped the fresh air would help him recover from bouts of tuberculosis. 

MailOnline has contacted Ardfin Estate and GCA Design for comment.  

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