Hampshire Trust to open Leeds office to support northern developers

Hampshire Trust Bank has put in a place a team of regional property experts to support SME housebuilders in the northern regions ahead of opening its Leeds office next year.

The team will be led by Neil Leitch who will act as regional director and will be responsible for covering development lending in the North East and will be based in County Durham. David Whitehouse will support developers in Yorkshire and Humberside and will be based in Doncaster. Paul Fellowes, based in Wilmslow, will cover the North West.

Managing director of property finance Robert Grigg said: “We believe it is vital to have an office in the North and to employ experts with specialist knowledge of specific locations and markets.

“We are focused on developing strong and lasting relationships with SME housebuilders and understand they need to work with people that understand their businesses, the challenges they face and the regional market, in all its intricacies.”

The bank’s split of business is currently 60% in London and the South East with the remaining 40% scattered across the UK. “We have funded deals in the north but now we want people on the ground up there,” said Grigg.

As part of its strategy to support SME developers, Hampshire Trust has partnered with the Housing Growth Partnership (HGP), an investor backed by Lloyds Bank and the Homes and Communities Agency. HGP partners with lenders to provide regional funding to regional residential developers.

Grigg said one of the biggest obstacles SME housebuilders had to overcome was the planning system. “For any housebuilder falling outside the top 50, the planning system is a huge problem,” he said. 

“They can’t buy huge land banks like volume housebuilders and they don’t  have the cash flow to buy land without planning consent and then wait for two years or more for permission to be granted before they start building.

“They need oven ready sites which already have planning approval which means they will have to pay high prices for the land.”

Hampshire Trust has lent £530m to developers and SME housebuilders since it was acquired by Alchemy Partners in May 2014.

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