A MULTI-MILLION pound development is underway to build new new homes in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Family-run Lancashire housebuilder Baxter Homes will be undertaking the project to build five three-bedroom, 12 four-bedroom and two five-bedroom detached homes just south of Garstang, which has been made possible thanks to a £5.5 million loan from OakNorth Bank.

The company says this will be give residents access to Forest of Bowland and the Lake District.

Baxter Homes founder Ian Baxter said: “The last year has been incredibly challenging for the industry, with many construction sites closing or operating at limited capacity, which only puts more pressure on housebuilders like us.

"This is why we were grateful to have OakNorth Bank’s support.

"They’ve worked with some of the largest and most-established housebuilders in the country, as well as numerous housebuilders, so know the industry well and have been able to share some of the best practice they’ve seen over the last year.

Baxter Homes has built homes across Lancashire for the last 15 years.

Meanwhile OakNorth Bank hopes that this could signal further housing projects to be build as the economy emerges from the pandemic.

OakNorth senior debt finance director Chris Swarbrick said: “Under Ian’s leadership, Baxter Homes has established an excellent reputation and has successfully completed a number of projects across Lancashire.

"In the 80s, SME housebuilders like Baxter Homes accounted for 80 per cent of all new homes being built in the UK, with the remaining 20 per cent being covered by the largest housebuilders.

"Today, it’s the reverse, with SME housebuilders representing just a fifth of all new homes being built.

"This decrease was exacerbated by the financial crisis of 2008 when banks pulled back from lending to SME housebuilders and we’re unfortunately seeing a similar trend now due to COVID-19.

"That is why at OakNorth Bank, we’re doing everything we can to support SME housebuilders like Baxter Homes, to ensure they get access to the debt finance they need to continue bringing new homes to market.”