A HIGHLAND housebuilder has sold 45 acres of land as it continues its quest to shore up its balance sheet during a turbulent period in the housing market.

Elgin-based Springfield Properties told the stock market that it has sold land equating to 190 plots for £4.2 million as part of its debt reduction strategy.

It means the builder, which has expanded its presence in the central belt through a series of major acquisitions in recent years, has now secured nearly £10m in land sales in the last two months, and it pledged that there are more deals to come.

A spokeswoman for the company said it could not disclose the locations of the land it has sold in recent weeks.

READ MORE: Springfield: Shares in builder plunge as confidence sinks

Chief executive Innes Smith said: “We are pleased to have agreed another profitable land sale as we continue to deliver on our strategy to reduce our debt position. In the last two months, we have secured almost £10m in land sales, with the proceeds to all be received during the current financial year - and without any impact on our development pipeline for the coming years.

“We continue to receive strong demand for our large, high-quality land bank. Accordingly, this sale, alongside others that we expect to conclude in the near-term, mean that we are well-positioned to meet our debt reduction targets.”

Springfield's recent land sales offer signs that it is beginning to emerge from a tumultuous period for the company. In September, it told the City that it had suspended dividend payments and warned that it did not expect to see “any material improvement in homebuyer confidence” before spring next year. That came as the housing market responded to a series of interest rate rises, which have led to a sharp increase in mortgage costs for many homeowners.

In its statement to the market in September, Springfield said that it had embarked on a strategy to slash debt, including land sales, amid significantly lower levels of reservations in the private housing market. It cited the impact of high interest rates, mortgage affordability, and reduced confidence among the house-buying public.

The company said then that dividends had been suspended until its bank debt “material reduced”, having seen it spiral to £67.7m by May 31 from £38.1m the year before.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens deal major blow to hospitality sector

Since then, the outlook for Springfield and the market in general appears to have brightened, as consensus has grown among economists that the recent cycle of interest rate rises may have reached a peak. The base rate was increased from a historic low of 0.1% in December 2021 to 5.25% following 14 rises by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, and was maintained at 5.25% by the MPC at its last meeting in November.

On Friday, the Nationwide House Price Index showed that house prices had grown for a third month in a row, following a surprise rise of 0.2% in November on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Separately, Springfield provided some cheer for its investors in early November when it underlined its prospects in the affordable housing market, having previously paused activity in 2022 when it cited concern over the Scottish Government’s affordable housing investment benchmarks.

The company re-entered the market after benchmarks increased by 16.9% in June, which Springfield said had made affordable projects more attractive. It announced in November that it had clinched a new affordable housing contract with The Highland Council worth £6.1 million and declared it was “well-placed to benefit from a return” to the sector.

Shares in Springfield have steadily recovered since suspending dividends in September. Yesterday morning, shares surged nearly 5% in early trading, before closing up 2p, or 2.78%, at 74p.

However, last night’s closing price was well adrift of the 102p it reached on February 7 this year.