(Corrects opening date in second paragraph and details of financing in fifth and sixth paragraphs)
By Naomi O‘Leary
LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - British holiday and leisure park company Center Parcs is to start work on a delayed 250 million pound ($400 million) site in central England after securing finance for the scheme.
The holiday centre, at Woburn, Bedfordshire, will be Center Parc’s fifth in Britain and will create 1,500 jobs. It is expected to open in Spring 2014.
The site was given planning permission five years ago but construction was delayed as the group sought financing.
“We’ve been really waiting for the financial markets, for the window to open for us to get the kind of financing we need for this project,” Chief Executive Martin Dalby told Reuters.
Center Parcs has agreed a 150 million pound construction loan from four banks: Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays , HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group.
On Tuesday the company completed a 1 billion pound refinancing secured against its four existing sites in a separate transaction.
Started in the Netherlands 40 years ago, Center Parcs opened in Britain 25 years ago in Sherwood Forest and was taken over by U.S. private equity group Blackstone in 2006.
The new site at Woburn will offer activity holidays in a woodland setting, including horse-riding, scuba-diving, painting, archery and golf.
“This expansion and the jobs that it brings will be a real boost to growth and a sign of the increasing investor confidence that there is too,” UK Prime Minister David Cameron said.
The site will employ 1,200 construction workers as well as the 1,500 new jobs when the centre opens.
Center Parc’s hotel, spa and sporting sites have proved resilient through the economic downturn, with occupancy rates over 95 percent.
Blackstone is providing 100 million pounds for the Woburn project. ($1 = 0.6260 British pounds) (Reporting by Naomi O‘Leary; Editing by Erica Billingham)