AN industrial and distribution estate near an airport - which played a key role in reinforcing Britain’s military strength in the sky during the Second World War - has sold for £25 million.

Leeds Bradford Airport Depot (LBAD), which sits to the north of the airport in Yeadon, is a more than 60-acre industrial site steeped in history.

The depot was originally built by the Avro Aircraft Company and between 1939 and 1946 it became a ‘shadow factory’ with its roof camouflaged in grass, complete with imitation farm buildings and dummy animals. 

During wartime, the site looked like agricultural land from the sky, rather than the largest industrial production centre in Europe, which it quickly evolved into.

The estate contributed to the war effort on a colossal scale with around 700 Lancaster Bombers and 4,500 Ansons built at the site by a 17,500-strong workforce. 

The remains of the taxiway from the factory to the main airfield, which later became Leeds Bradford Airport, are still visible today.

LBAD is directly accessible from the A658 Harrogate Road.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A view of the site from above A view of the site from above (Image: Candid PR)

Notable tenants include Jet2, APCOA, VPK Packaging, VLT Logistics, and Toyota Tsusho.

Leopard Capital has now bought the approximately 1.25 million sq ft within a 60-acre site. 

The investment marks the London-based investment company’s entry into Yorkshire.

The depot was previously owned by the Broadland Properties Group since 1969. 

The company was advised by Leeds-based property consultants, GV&Co, while Leopard Capital was represented by Robin Bullas from Commercial Property Partners.

James Hill, director at Broadland Properties, spoke about its journey from buying the vacant former aircraft factory 55 years ago to now. 

He said: “After significant capital investment in the building, it became a true engine of growth, with a strong continuing income stream. 

“With changing Group investment criteria and an ambitious acquisition pipeline, the time had come for Broadland Properties to pass this signature building into new ownership.”

Garry Howes, director of investment at GV&Co, said “LBAD is a unique, high-yield, multi-let investment opportunity with a rich trading history. The deal reflects confidence in the industrial sector and the North of England’s commercial property market.”

The site was put up for sale in late 2022.

At the time, Mr Howes said: “Leeds Bradford Airport Depot is a landmark building in West Yorkshire and very well-known due to its vast scale, prominent location and rich history.

“The development has more than stood the test of time, and continually attracts and retains strong national tenants.”