Housebuilder asks Homes and Communities Agency to buy up surplus development sites

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has been locked in detailed negotiations to sell surplus sites to the government’s housing and regeneration quango in order to repair its parlous balance sheets.

Senior sources close to the talks said the firm, which has recently received a temporary reprieve from its bankers, went to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in late autumn, “begging” for it to buy its development sites to help it reduce its £1.55bn debt mountain.

An HCA source said the agency refused to buy the portfolio offered by the housebuilder, but has since been in discussions with the firm over how to maximise the number of homes it builds and free up blocked development sites.

The source said that as well as the possibility of buying some sites, the package of measures could include the HCA taking an equity stake in stalled projects, providing development capital or taking the development risk itself and using Taylor Wimpey as a contractor.

The source said the agency was also in talks with a number of other housebuilders on similar kinds of issues, but said that Taylor Wimpey was the first. He said: “Taylor Wimpey came to us. Clearly it is a key strategic partner of the agency; it is the preferred developer on a number of projects and the land receipts of the agency are very dependent on it. We’ve been having long discussions about ensuring sites aren’t mothballed and trying to protect its supply chain.”

Eamonn Boylan, deputy chief executive of the HCA, said: “We have been in contact with Taylor Wimpey and other housebuilders, and are looking at a range of options to help maintain momentum within the industry. No deal has yet been agreed with any housebuilder.”

Taylor Wimpey declined to comment.