Planning permission granted for Blindwells site
Hargreaves Services receive approval in principle for 1,600 new homes on former opencast coal mine
HARGREAVES Services plc, a diversified group delivering key projects and services to the infrastructure, energy and property sectors, have received planning approval in principle for 1,600 new homes at Blindwells, on part of a 392-acre site near Tranent in East Lothian, less than 15 miles from Edinburgh city centre.
The approval, which includes affordable housing and mixed-use development, represents the first phase of a wider master plan for more than 3,200 homes to be developed over the next 12–15 years.
The Blindwells site, which was formerly an opencast coal mine until its closure in 2000, will require some initial consolidation work and the development of infrastructure such as roads and connections to utility networks.
This work is expected to commence shortly and will require upfront capital investment by Hargreaves in groundworks and enabling infrastructure at a cost of approximately £5 million, which is expected to be funded from the Group’s existing resources.
Subsequently, it is expected that Hargreaves will undertake the phased sale of residential development plots to national and local house builders over a number of years.
The grant of planning is expected to generate a meaningful uplift to the market value of the Blindwells site relative to the book value included in the Group’s net assets, which totalled £129.2 million on 30 November 2016.
Hargreaves have commissioned a formal independent valuation of their property portfolio for publication in their preliminary results in August 2017, by which time they expect their assessment of the development options for the site to be more complete.
The valuation report will include an assessment of the value of the Blindwells site reflecting the grant of planning permission. Going forward this valuation will be revised and reported on annually to enable shareholders to track progress.
Commenting on the planning approval, Iain Slater, development and estates director for Hargreaves, said: ‘We have worked in partnership with East Lothian Council to deliver its original vision for a new community and we are confident that Blindwells will provide a high-quality lifestyle set around some of Scotland’s finest countryside.
‘We’re delighted that the first phase has been granted planning approval in principle and we look forward to working with the Council to ensure delivery of the targeted development investment and associated benefits for East Lothian.’
Gordon Banham (pictured), chief executive officer of Hargreaves, added: ‘We are delighted to have secured this planning permission. It marks another important milestone in achieving the target we set ourselves to deliver £35–50 million of new value from our overall property portfolio over the next five years.
‘Blindwells is an important part of that portfolio and is an excellent and exciting site. The grant of planning permission now allows us to develop and commercialize the site, and we look forward to providing further updates and information as our plans progress.’