Legal & General is to invest £162m (€229m) in a regeneration project in Leeds, as it seeks to back local economies in the north of England.

The UK insurer, which plans to invest £1.5bn in UK regeneration projects, has taken a 50% stake in Thorpe Park Leeds, a 200-acre mixed-use business development site.

Scarborough Group, the owner and developer of Thorpe Park, has planning consent to build 60,000sqft of offices and 300 homes during a second, five-year development phase.

The deal is the first since the start of the UK government’s Regeneration Investment Organisation (RIO) partnership, launched earlier this year.

Legal & General Capital, which invests the insurer’s in-house capital, committed £1.5bn to RIO pipeline projects. It is working to pool £15bn of institutional capital, which could help fund as many as 50 regeneration projects across the UK, including housing and infrastructure.

Legal & General’s portfolio of UK regeneration projects includes schemes in Bracknell, Canning Town, Plymouth, Wakefield and Liverpool. The firm recently invested in MediaCityUK in Salford with Peel. The £503m strategic regeneration project was included in RIO’s original target list of projects but executed directly.

The investment in Thorpe Park Leeds will contribute to ambitions to create a “northern powerhouse”. The UK government has called for northern cities to collaborate and rival the economic dominance of London.

Michael Bear, chairman of RIO, said: “For too long, investment has been focused on London and the South East. The UK is known internationally as an attractive place in which to invest in large-scale regeneration and infrastructure projects.”

He said he hoped other investors including those from “Singapore and Malaysia and other dynamic economies would follow the lead of a leading domestic player by investing in the significant growth opportunity the northern powerhouse”.

Laura Mason, director of direct investments at Legal & General Capital, said: “This major development will help bring the northern powerhouse to life, supporting the wider Leeds economy and acting as a major catalyst for further investment in the UK’s cities and regions.”