Developers buy Priors Hall in Corby for £40m

Priors Hall, pictured in 2013
Priors Hall, pictured in 2013

The unfinished Priors Hall development in Corby has been bought for £40m.

Almost exactly 12 months ago the two companies involved in the building of Priors Hall – previously dubbed the UK’s biggest building site – went into administration.

Now developer Urban&Civic has announced that it has bought a 100 per cent interest in freehold land at Priors Hall.

A statement on the firm’s website said: “The existing consented land extends to 907 acres in two local authority areas, Corby borough and East Northamptonshire district.

“Separately, Urban&Civic has acquired a further 58 acres of mostly contiguous woodland for an additional £550,000 to take the total invested to £40.5m.

“Priors Hall is being acquired from the joint administrators.

“Priors Hall has an existing outline planning consent for 5,095 units, some of which has been sold to seven different housebuilders and is in the process of being built out.

“The development is split into three residential phases with the new homes set within lakes, open parkland and forests.

“Urban&Civic is acquiring 3,656 uncontracted plots, substantively comprising Phases 2 and 3 and the benefit of outstanding sums on Phase 1.

“Estimated near term receipts from Phase 1 housebuilder contracts now payable to Urban&Civic are expected to be in the order of £11.8m, including overage, giving a net purchase consideration of £28.1m for the uncontracted plots.

“The scheme already has more than 1,000 residents; housebuilders on site include Barratt and David Wilson, Taylor Wimpey, Kier and Francis Jackson Homes.

“There were close to 200 housing completions at Priors Hall in the 12 months to March 2017.

“Priors Hall Primary School for 420 children had its first intake in September 2016, and is adjacent to Corby Business Academy, which opened in 2008.”

A spokesman for Corby Council said: “We are very pleased to hear of the news that the Priors Hall development scheme has been purchase by Urban&Civic.

“Although new homes have continued to be built on site there has of course been concerns, so it is a very welcome progression to the development.

“We now expect the new owners to meet with colleagues at Corby Council in due to course to discuss the future plans for the site.

“We look forward to working with Urban&Civic and welcome them in joining the future development of Corby.”

Chief executive of Urban&Civic Nigel Hugill said: “Priors Hall offers exceptional upside for shareholders and demonstrates the ability of Urban&Civic to work through large site challenges that other developers often find too daunting. “The acquisition is right in our sweet spot: complicated history, long and supportive funding structure, demonstrable potential for better project organisation and improved planning.

“Plus the fundamentals are strong: 68-minute direct rail service into London and seven million people living within 50 miles.

“Recent house price growth in the local area is among the highest in the country, while Priors Hall has been achieving sales of about 200 new homes a year despite being under-managed and over-leveraged.

“We believe our skills and experience as incoming master developer confer competitive advantage for which we expect to be rewarded with superior returns.”

Financial advisor firm GVA was appointed to market Priors Hall in February 2017.

Senior director Mark Birks said: “We were very pleased that GVA could lead the freehold sale of this strategically important development site.

“Having agreed the sale less than a year after the site came into administration this acquisition has created certainty for the house builders operating at Priors Hall Park as well as its existing residents.

“We were instructed by the joint administrators to organise a sale of the land that would not only reflect the value inherent in the site, but could also unlock its potential as one of the largest residential development sites in the UK.

“With outline consent for more than 5,000 homes within commuting distance of both London and Birmingham, the land has the potential to deliver much needed housing against the backdrop of a continued national housing shortage.

“This sale represents a significant milestone in the development of Priors Hall Park.”