Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has won a relaxation of banking covenants to allow it to buy sites in advance of a full debt restructure in the next month

Crest Nicholson chief executive Stephen Stone said the company had returned to the land market since getting the 60-strong banking syndicate that owns it to allow it to take its own decisions.

It has bought 1,300 plots in London, the South-east and Bristol.

Stone said: “We came in above budget last year, and that’s helped persuade the banks to relax their documents, most importantly over land-buying. Effectively we can now buy the majority of sites we need with board approval, without having to secure the support of lenders.”

Crest Nicholson has already undergone a significant debt restructure since the credit crunch that saw entrepreneur part-owner Sir Tom Hunter lose his stake in the company. It sold 1,600 homes last year. Crest was bought by Hunter and HBoS at the height of the market 2007 in a £715m deal backed by £1.2bn of debt.

Stone said Crest will conclude its second debt-for-equity restructure with its banks in the next month, after securing support in principal just before Christmas from main lender Varde. The company still owes £500m to the consortium.