Thank you for a lot of things to think about. You guys are heroes.
The freehold is with the developer (who have a British director), the current owner bought leasehold, and I believe most/all houses on the development are leasehold. I think now that I will follow the same path, and get a fresh 30 year lease. I don't fancy the idea of a potential big fine and custodial sentence (unlikely I guess) if the government do crack down on small shell companies. I think they are only interested in the big ones at the moment but who knows. Also I read above that the land department will check the validity of the developers' title to the land before accepting any fresh lease (in theory...), which gives comfort, although I will of course get a lawyer to do a land search anyway. Belt and braces.
I already have been talking with Legal Services Hua Hin (the Makro guys) and they already urged me to instruct them to do a land search. I also understand that there is a particular type of land registration/title deed document that should be available, as there are various levels of documentation, from ultimate proof of land survey/title down to a mere historical record of purchases. Even if I only will take leasehold I think I need to be sure that the developer has full title to the land.
Thanks again, crossing fingers.