London 1st April 2019 – Peer-to-Peer lender, BLEND Network, has just completed the advance of £1.15 million in loans to allow two significant low-cost housing development projects in Norfolk to go ahead, located in Norwich and Great Yarmouth. Both developments will contribute to addressing the affordable housing challenges that the region faces given limited Government funding. Demand to supply the funding was so high that the loans were subscribed to in record time.
BLEND Network advanced £550,000 for the purchase and redevelopment of a 17th century Grade II listed guesthouse at 17 Colegate Street, in the heart of Norwich’s Cathedral district, which dates back to the Anglo Saxon period. An initial tranche of £425,000 was advanced to help acquire the 400 year old property, with the second tranche of £125,000 financing the redevelopment. Blend Network’s network of lenders committed funds to the development project in a record 19 seconds.
The guesthouse will be converted into six low-cost apartments and one commercial space by an innovative property development company with a senior team that has over twenty years of combined property development and construction experience.
BLEND Network also advanced £600,000 for the purchase and redevelopment of Crown House in central Great Yarmouth into residential accommodation of 30 low-cost apartments. Built at the tail end of the 1960s with its distinctive trio of rooftop cones – in reference to Great Yarmouth’s famous former quayside maltings – Crown House, also known as Yarmouth House, sits on a half-acre site with 49 parking spaces.
The building was once home to Government offices but has remained derelict for many years despite previous attempts to redevelop the site. A joint venture company whose directors have over sixty years of property development and construction experience between them will lead the office to residential conversion. A further £800,000 will be raised to fund further phases of redevelopment but this should be achievable as Blend’s network of lenders subscribed to the just competed loans in just three minutes.
Both property developments will play a key role in easing low-cost housing burden in Norwich and the wider Norfolk area. Norwich City Council has previously warned that more than 5,000 people locally are in need of low-cost housing, with Norwich City Council spending £220,000 last year to house people in temporary accommodation. Cuts to Norfolk County Council’s budget, including £4.5m being taken from a budget used to commission services from charities and housing providers are expected to exacerbate pressure on existing accommodation services.
Norfolk County Council also recognizes the need for low-cost housing having recently committed to building 73,000 new homes as part of plans to support the economy and create 57,000 new jobs and 5,300 new business by 2026. The work to breathe new life into old buildings such as 17 Colegate and Crown House will support not only those moving to Norfolk to live and work in the country’s expanding energy, engineering and manufacturing industries, but will also continue to support the 54,000 jobs in Norfolk’s tourism industry contributing £2.8bn to the local economy.
BLEND Network is helping to channel private investment to fill this vital gap and aims to provide further loans for low-cost developments in the region to help increase the amount of low-cost housing.
BLEND Network is a peer-to-peer property lending platform where lenders can invest in property-secured loans at an average return above 10% p.a. Private lenders are able to co-invest from £1,000 with very sophisticated high net worth lenders in the same deal, in a move that is leading to the increasing ‘democratisation’ of investing. They focus on providing funding for affordable housing outside of London and have so far raised over £6 million for affordable housing developments across the UK.
Yann Murciano, Chief Executive Officer of BLEND Network, commented:
“We were delighted to be able to facilitate these two loans which allow these important low-cost housing developments at Colegate in Norwich and Crown House in Great Yarmouth to go forward. A shortage of low-cost accommodation is a key challenge in Norfolk and we hope to play a strong role in helping the county address this vital issue.”
Roxanna Mohammadian-Molina, Chief Strategy Office at BLEND Network, commented:
“BLEND Network is continually looking for developers to work with. We concentrate on property developments outside of London and the South East for the specific reason that we want to help with the provision of low-cost accommodation in the communities that need it most. Norfolk and the East have seen significant increases in property values due to a lack of affordable housing provision, a problem that has been exacerbated by the number people buying holiday and second homes in the region. Our hope is that by working with local developers we can do something to alleviate this problem.”