Blackstone goes to Bedfordshire for £250m Center Parcs venture

CENTER Parcs, the private equity-backed holiday village operator, is to open a fifth site in Britain after a £1bn refinancing.

The group said construction of the £250m park, in Woburn in Bedfordshire, will create 1,500 jobs and a further 1,200 in construction.

Blackstone, which bought Center Parcs in 2006, will put another £100m into the business and four banks – RBS, Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds – have agreed a £150m construction loan.

The venture won backing from David Cameron, who said: “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.”

John Cridland, director-general of the CBI, said it was “vital” to encourage investment into the leisure sector.

Martin Dalby, Center Parcs chief executive, said: “This is our 25th year of operation and Center Parcs is trading strongly, with occupancy rates of around 97 per cent throughout 2011 and positive forward booking trends.”

Earlier this week the firm completed a £1bn refinancing. It is secured against the existing four sites and replaces the previous debt structure.