Berkeley bulks up land bank with three sites

Kasmira Jefford
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HOUSEBUILDER Berkeley said yesterday it was on track to grow its landbank by 10 per cent this year after buying up three sites in London and the south east to tap into the shortage of supply in the region.

The FTSE 250 group run by industry veteran Tony Pidgley said it has made acquisitions in Finchley, Mill Hill and Maidenhead in the first half of the year.

It also won eight new planning consents in the period including two London schemes at Hampton House on Albert Embankment and Sovereign Court in Hammersmith.

Like its housebuilding peers, Berkeley has been competing to buy land in the south east, where mortgage lending is less constrained and prices have stayed high.

London house prices have risen 7.1 per cent over the past year compared to a one per cent increase across the country, January data from the Land Registry showed.

“The market for new homes in London and the South East is still characterised by a shortage of supply at all price levels, albeit that this market is affected by the drag on demand caused by restrictions on mortgage availability and increased regulation,” Berkeley said.

Forward sales have now risen by 40 per cent year-on-year at £1.4bn.

The group said it remained on tracked to return £568m in cash to shareholders by September 2015 and that its strong land bank would help it meet full-year expectations.