Illuminating Investments Ltd

Illuminating Investments Ltd was established in 2016 by John and Michael McDonnell. David Aspland joined the company as a Director in 2017 and since then the company has been directly involved in over £50 million of property related transactions.

The scope of deals has ranged from direct purchases, funding arrangements, promotion agreements, joint ventures and direct development, always working with carefully chosen partners and the very best professionals and contractors to deliver the best outcomes.

Illuminating Investments Ltd are always interested in the next deal and willing to look at deals across any sector.

David Aspland


David has over 20 years’ experience in the commercial, residential development and investment property market having worked for Donaldsons, Unite PLC and latterly as a partner for Savills and Carter Jonas where he headed up the northern commercial division. Illuminating Investments Ltd provides the ideal platform for David and the team to partake directly rather than supply advice on development and investment opportunities.

The ability to purchase property directly from cash funds, from 3rd parties or enter into joint ventures with development partners provides the flexibility to ensure Illuminating Investments Ltd can consider the full spectrum of opportunities both on and off the market.

John and Michael McDonnell

Michael 150Michael McDonnell

John McDonnell and Michael McDonnell founded Harvard Engineering Ltd in 1993. The business specialised in electronic power supplies and wireless controls for the commercial, industrial, retail display and public lighting sectors. They built it into a business employing over 400 people in the UK and Internationally with a turnover of £46M which they sold to private equity in 2013 and subsequently exited in 2015.

Wishing to start second careers they became founding partners in Illuminating Investments Ltd in 2014.

John 150John McDonnell

John is also closely involved with Connect Yorkshire, a not for profit business which exists to help Yorkshire businesses grow, and chairs the Connect Leaders Forum, which helps business owners help each other through group mentoring and issue processing.

Michael has over 20 years’ business experience leading dynamic and energetic teams as Sales and Marketing Director, Operations Director and Commercial Director.

Current Projects

Scarsdale Lane, Bardsey

  • Working in partnership with local contractors PDS Construction, Illuminating Investments Ltd provided development finance for the purchase of a prime residential site with existing planning for 2 large detached houses.
  • The deal completed in March 2020.
  • PDS are currently working on the build.  Completion is expected in summer 2021.

New Briggate, Leeds City Centre

  • Illuminating Investments Ltd completed the purchase of the upper floors of 47-51 new Briggate in April 2020.
  • This former hotel will be converted into 9 high quality, one bedroom apartments.
  • Improvement works are due to be carried out in the area by Leeds City Council.  These works will pedestrianise the New Briggate area which the building is situated in.
  • Over £15 million has also been invested into the area by Opera North.
  • The conversion of the former hotel into flats will commence in August 2020.  The development will be called ‘The Stage’.

Moorfield House, Headingley

  • In January 2020, Illuminating Investments Ltd completed the acquisition of Moorfield House, a grade 2 listed office building in the heart of Headingley, Leeds.
  • The property extends to 23,000 sq ft and is ideal for residential conversion or redevelopment for a number of alternative users.

The Sycamores, Melmerby

  • Illuminating Investments Ltd purchased the site in 2017
  • Planning permission was secured for the development of three detached 4 and 5 bedroom houses.
  • The design brief was to produce highly energy efficient houses incorporating substantial insulation properties and air source heat pumps.
  • Completed in July 2020.
  • The properties are on the market with Linley & Simpson.
  • Click here to take a look at the walkthrough tour of the properties.

Church Street, Boston Spa, Holydene and Borlocco

  • Illuminating Investments Ltd purchased this former school and care home on a site of 6.5 acres, unconditionally from The Diocese of Leeds in Summer 2018.
  • Working alongside architects, a detailed scheme was prepared for around 80 homes.
  • After a marketing process, Illuminating Investments Ltd selected Stonebridge Homes Ltd to deliver a full detailed planning consent on this allocated site.
  • Planning and the forward sale of the site is expected in Autumn 2020.

High Trees – Boston Spa

  • Illuminating Investments Ltd agreed a planning promotion agreement with the owners of High Trees Nursery in 2018.
  • After 18 months in planning a scheme to provide for the demolition of the existing nursery and provision of three plots for self build executive homes has been agreed.
  • Each plot has now been sold.

The Bay Horse, Kirk Deighton

  • Illuminating Investments Ltd purchased the Bay Horse as a vacant and unloved pub that had seen 13 different tenants in 10 years.
  • Upon completion of the purchase, a deal was structured with local landlords, Alan and Gareth Lamb who are running a now successful pub which is a real centrepiece of the pretty village of Kirk Deighton near Wetherby.

Walkers Court, Wetherby

  • Working closely with the owner of the two office buildings, Fairfax and Marston House, Illuminating Investments Ltd submitted and achieved permitted development rights to deliver 16, one and two bedroom luxury apartments in the popular market town of Wetherby.
  • Illuminating Investments Ltd provided funding for the build and project managed the development which was carried out by Head Office 3 Ltd.
  • The apartments have now been completed and are currently on the market. Six of the eight apartments released in phase one are now under offer.
  • For further information, please contact the Wetherby Branch of Linley and Simpson on 01937 586060.

Past Projects

The acquisition of Sovereign House as a new HQ for Leeds Building Society

  • Working with the Leeds Building Society, Illuminating Investments Ltd were the lead consultant in identifying and acquiring the existing 80,000sq ft Sovereign House for in excess of £20 million.
  • The deal was completed in 2018.

Photon Park, Normanton

  • Photon Park was developed initially as a brand new HQ for Harvard Engineering Ltd in 2017, but the 16 acre site, with 54,000 sq ft of industrial space and a 30,000 ft office facility was never occupied by the company.
  • After a successful marketing campaign, the entire buildings and site were let on a 15 year lease to Aston Barclay Ltd for use as a vehicle auction site.
  • The investment was then sold to Worthing and Adur County Council for an 8 figure sum.

Photon Park - Phase 1

For Sale/To Let – HARVARD WAY, WF6 1GX • J31 M62

Photon Park - Phase 2

  • Over 7 acres of prime industrial development land remains at Photon Park
  • Potential for 50,000 – 90,000 sqft industrial
  • For more information contact David Aspland 07972000149

Chapel Place, Well Lane, Chapel Allerton

  • Alexandra House was bought as a standing investment by Illuminating Investments Ltd in February 2016.
  • Permitted development rights were applied for to change the existing offices to residential use.
  • Detailed architectural plans were commissioned to provide 6 luxury apartments and 2 penthouses.
  • Working hand in hand with the tenants, Illuminating Investments Ltd sourced alternative accommodation for all parties
  • Work on site began in January 2017 and the project was completed in Spring 2017.

Brittania Gardens, Pudsey

  • Illuminating Investments Ltd were approached by Gregory Properties Ltd to fund the land purchase of the former Wood Mitchell Timber Products site in Pudsey.
  • Illuminating Investments Ltd purchased the site unconditionally and entered into a development agreement with Gregorys allowing them to seek planning for 12 x two-bedroom townhouses.
  • Full planning consent was granted in August 2016 where upon Illuminating Investments Ltd also agreed to provide full development finance for the project.
  • All houses were sold by the year end 2018.

Herons Keep, Thorpe Arch

  • The property was sold to a local owner occupier in 2018. It is now subject to a planning application for a spectacular single dwelling.



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