Bovis Homes warns of planning hiatus

Aaron Morby 14 years ago
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Bovis Homes is buying land with planning permission to side-step a looming hiatus in planning.

The house builder said the market had improved helping it to deliver a small pre-tax profit in the first half of the year after making a loss of £8.6m in the same period last year.

But it warned that Government planning policy changes raised the risk of future delays gaining planning as local authorities adjusted to the new focus on localism.

“There is now a risk that certain areas of the country will see limited positive decisions for planning consent for new homes until new planning legislation is released in 2011,” warned the company in its half-year results.

Bovis spent £107m adding 1,874 plots to its 13,113 consented land bank since the start of the year. It estimates future revenue from these sites will more than treble the return.

Around 80% of the new land is in the south east where the housing market recovery is strongest.

During the first half Bovis made a pre-tax profit of £3.5m on revenue down 6% at £115.6m. The slide in revenue reflected a delay in booking some joint ventures sales.

Despite the return to profit, operating margins rebounded to just 4.2%, although the house builder said it was confident the land buying strategy and building cost savings in the second half would improve its performance greatly in the second half.

Bovis completed 803 homes in the first half compared to 753 in the same period last year at an average sales price up just 3% on last year at £163,500.

The board said it had decided to resume paying a dividend to shareholders against the background of an improved outlook.

David Ritchie, chief executive of Bovis Homes, said: “The group is well positioned to exploit opportunities to expand, with net cash in hand at 30 June 2010 of £79m and committed bank facilities of £150m.

“The group has the ability to increase its output capacity and profitability in the future, supported by a larger land bank across an increased number of housing sites, without reliance on a general housing market recovery, ” he added.

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