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Hodson Developments secures planning and funding for Chilmington Green Development

Fladgate client Hodson Developments has secured planning and funding to commence a new garden city project near Ashford, Kent, known as the Chilmington Green Development.

Chilmington Green will bring a vibrant, mixed use, new community to the town of Ashford in Kent. It will provide around 5,750 new homes as well as its own high street, a secondary school, four primary schools, a park and extensive areas of green space. Detailed planning consent was formally secured at the end of February 2017 by a consortium led by Hodson Developments (winner of the 2016 Private Developer of the Year award). The project is set to be built over four phases and is expected to run for 20 years.

The transaction evolved following the resolution to grant planning in 2014 and was structured to meet the concerns and varying objectives of the stakeholders. Fladgate’s real estate team advised on all aspects of the structure, working with the developer to produce a complex matrix of infrastructure agreements and conditional sale agreements.

Hodson Developments now owns 90% of the site and will deliver the infrastructure for Phase 1. In addition, it has retained development land for the delivery of residential houses and the commercial aspects in Phase 1 and holds all of the land to be delivered in Phases 2-4.

Fladgate real estate team advised on the property and development aspects. Commenting on the transaction, the lead real estate partner said: “We are delighted to have been involved in this project from such an early stage. It was a tremendous undertaking to negotiate and co-ordinate all aspects of the transaction to enable them to fall into place on the same day. The whole team has had to adapt to deal with the complexities of such a large site, from drafting bespoke infrastructure agreements to preparing nearly 40 Land Registry applications. It is a real testament to the firm’s strength in depth and technical expertise.”

The funding was structured and arranged by Mark Harris, CEO of SPF Private Clients, who identified a team of lenders who had the experience and the appetite to be involved in such a complex project. Under his expert guidance the borrower secured a specialised lending package for the project.

The acquisition and initial development of the site has been funded by three separate lenders with the Homes & Communities Agency funding the infrastructure for the whole site and Titlestone providing funding for the land acquisition and initial building of 342 housing units. Close Brothers provided funding for the final land acquisition to complete the site assembly.

Fladgate banking partner Kim McMurray, who led the team advising on the finance aspects of the transaction, commented: “It is always a challenge to bring together three separate lenders with overlapping interests in a funding package of this type. It is a combination of the lenders’ commitment and the “can do” attitude of their advisers that has enabled us to get funding in place for this project to proceed. Alan Hodson has done an outstanding job in co-ordinating the various parties to ensure that that all of these landowners, developers, local authorities and lenders were able to sign up in support of this scheme.”

Alan Hodson of Hodson Developments said: “This represents the culmination of ten years’ work to create a community of choice in the town of Ashford and I am delighted see the vision now becoming a reality. The project will bring 1,500 new homes to the area by 2022 with 5,750 to be delivered in all. There will be a high street with a range of shops, a much needed new secondary school for the area, four primary schools, business premises and a community hub. A large proportion of the site will be dedicated to leisure or sports areas, creating a great environment in which to live and work. The Hodson team is looking forward to building the high quality homes for which we are so well recognised.”

Work will commence on site in April 2017 with first homes expected to be completed in early 2019.

Fladgate’s team was led by Kim McMurray, assisted by real estate senior associate Rebecca Tavares and associate Ed Willis, construction senior associate Chris Farrell, banking partner Luke Morris and tax partner Hamilton Forrest. Planning partner, Mark Harnett assisted by associate Miles Crawford, advised on the s.106 agreement and other statutory agreements.

Also involved in the project are major house-builder Barratt Developments and local developers Pentland Homes and Jarvis Homes. The parties were represented by seven other law firms, including Berwin Leighton Paisner, DLA Piper, Addleshaw Goddard and Osborne Clarke.

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