Developer making massive profit wants better and quicker service from councils

“The boss of Cala Homes has hit out at ‘understaffed’ councils for slowing the pace of development as the firm reported a fifth year of record growth.

Alan Brown, chief executive of the private housebuilder, said that he wanted to see more “responsibility at a local level” for making sure development of new homes was able to go ahead.

“The issue is about how central government gets local government to take their responsibility more seriously,” he said. “At a time when the country desperately needs more homes, local authorities are cutting back on people.”

Research by the Royal Town Planning Institute released in August found that council planning departments were “just about managing” due to budget pressure.

“All local government services have been under significant pressure over the past few years, However, data suggests that planning and development has been the hardest hit of all,” the research found.

Mr Brown praised Theresa May’s commitment to extending the Help to Buy scheme, which helps first time buyers get onto the housing ladder. The prime minister announced over the weekend that the scheme would benefit a further 135,000 people, giving a boost to housebuilders who feared an end to the subsidy.

Around 14pc of Cala’s sales in the last year have been made through Help to Buy, Mr Brown said, although he added that he thought it should eventually be “transitioned out over time” as the number of higher loan-to-value mortgages increases.

Cala Homes, which is backed by Legal & General and Patron Capital, made revenues of £747.9m in the year to June 30, 27pc higher than in the previous year.

It rapidly increased the number of homes it built, completing 1,677 in the 12-month period compared to 1,151 in the previous year, an increase of 46pc.

Its pre-tax profits jumped 14pc to £68.5m, despite the average selling price of its homes dipping 8pc to £497,000. This was a result of Cala’s move away from building homes worth more than £1m in order to concentrate on more mid-market properties.

Clyde Lewis, analyst at Peel Hunt, said: “We expect the group to see a decent improvement in margins this year as strong volume growth catches up with the overhead investment.”

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