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Textile Mill housing scheme moves to second phase with Yorkshire Bank backing


A west Yorkshire housing scheme, which is regenerating a former industrial site, is moving into its second phase after winning backing from Yorkshire Bank.

The second new-build phase of the Whitley Willows development at Lepton, Huddersfield, is starting building work after gaining £3.5m funding from Yorkshire Bank’s Leeds Financial Solutions Centre (FSC).

The Yorkshire Bank backing has been a lifeline for Cookson Homes which had been unable to get a clear commitment from other potential funding organisations because of the credit crunch - even though it was due to exchange contracts on the site.

Whitley Willows is based at a former textile mill of the same name which ceased trading almost two years ago. Three of the old textile mill buildings have been restored to create 28 one and two-bedroom apartments at asking prices from £150,000 and more than half have been sold.

The first phase comprises nine new-build homes, priced up to £1.2m, while the second phase in the grounds of the former mill, for where Mr Cookson was seeking funding to buy the land, has a £14m total value and will feature 14 detached homes, nine of which have been pre-sold `off-plan’.

Cookson Homes, which is based at Bradley, Huddersfield, has a £15m turnover and 50 staff and also has new-build and refurbishment schemes underway in Mirfield, Lowerhouses, Edgerton and Dalton.

Managing director Joe Cookson, 36, who launched his company last year, says: “We are a thriving successful business but, because of the credit crunch, some of our funding organisations were hard-pressed to give us a firm commitment on the nine-acre site.

“Like most developers we deal with several funders and I decide to approach Yorkshire Bank with which I have had a long-standing relationship over the years. Luckily, and partly because of the amount of pre-sales, they were able to turn our loan request round very quickly and enabled us to complete on time.”

Leeds FSC business partner, Jonathan Voller, who provided the funding to Cookson Homes, says: “Cookson Homes is a first rate business but, like some others, has found it hard to get quick decisions from some financial organisations due to the credit squeeze.

“Fortunately our FSC format enables us to make faster credit decisions than is usually the case and we were able to get Joe Cookson the funds he required in time for him to start building work as planned.”

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