Housebuilder makes biggest-ever purchase of land for redevelopment from ICI.
Housebuilder and property developer Redrow has pulled off its largest-ever land purchase. The £250m-turnover housebuilder last week announced a £34.5m deal to buy 259 ha of land for commercial and residential development from chemicals giant ICI.

Chairman Steve Morgan told Building: "There have been deals of a similar size for acquisitions, but I think this is our largest single land deal." In what Morgan describes as an extremely complex deal, Redrow has paid £14.5m up front for the land, with the remaining £20m to be triggered by grants of planning permission.

The developments are being led by Redrow's commercial property arm, although the land has potential for up to 3600 homes.

Morgan said: "We've had an ongoing aim to build up our commercial development arm for some time, and this is part of that strategy. It certainly doesn't signal any move away from housebuilding as our core business. I think it's about giving us another avenue for growth that is complementary to our residential side." The land is a combination of former office and depot sites, and green-belt land. Although most of the land is brownfield, Morgan said there were no contamination issues.

The land is in three packages. Redrow has purchased 40 ha with options on another 32 ha at the Severnside Distribution Park in Bristol. Some 213 ha of land, with space for up to 3000 homes, has been purchased east of the M49 near the Severnside Park, plus a 1.4 ha commercial site at Altrincham which opens up access to a large residential site, with space for up to 600 homes.

ICI sold Redrow a third, 3.8 ha retail sight at Hornbeam Park in Harrogate.

The deal provides a major boost to Redrow's forward landbank at a time when some housebuilders, most significant Berkeley Group, are deliberately reducing their holdings in the face of the depressed housing market.

Morgan said Redrow has no plans to follow suit: "You always have to be in the market for land when the deal is right."