A commercial property company which transformed a former Tyneside dairy into a business park offering affordable office space is to develop more units thanks to a funding package from Unity Trust Bank.

Benton House Limited breathed new life into the eight-acre site on the Bellway Industrial Estate in Longbenton, Newcastle after it was left derelict in 2005.

The company provides competitive rents and flexible leases for start-up businesses and firms looking to reduce their overheads, and the loan from the commercial bank with a social conscience will enable three new units to open.

Michael Wicks, Relationship Manager at Unity Trust Bank, said: “We work with organisations that aim to have a positive impact on society through economic, community or social change.

“Benton House Limited offers a range of incentives to help companies in the North East and support like this is very important, especially after the difficulties experienced by many businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Benton House Limited is the brainchild of former solider Courtney Clift who was brought up in a deprived area in Newcastle.

After leaving the Army he started a refrigeration recycling business and identified a need to develop affordable commercial property which focused on disadvantaged groups and start-ups.

Mr Clift bought the Longbenton site in 2011 and recruited skilled tradesmen from the local community to develop it.

Phil Rodgers, Commercial Director at Benton House Limited, said: “BHL isn’t a traditional property investment company.

“We look at the people as well as the businesses and for this reason, likeminded businesses have been attracted to the site and more cross-trading and support has happened organically.

“Several local contractors that worked on the site also became tenants, developed their businesses and created new jobs.

“Our aim is to continue to offer new businesses the opportunity to access premises and support without crippling them financially from the point of start-up.

“We were keen to secure a long-term stable relationship with a commercial bank and chose Unity because of their socially-focused mandate and pragmatic approach to sustainable business.”