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Gleeson criticises lack of government clarity on planning

Gleeson has criticised the government for failing to clarify the details of proposed changes to the planning system.

In a statement to the City, the housebuilder said it hoped to use the depth and experience of its strategic land team to overcome problem securing residential planning consents.

It said: “The policy vacuum created by the coalition government’s failure to clarify the details of its proposed changes to the planning system is currently making it more difficult to obtain commercially viable residential planning consents.”

The firm said the scarcity of planning permission approvals meant sites were likely to command a higher premium when sold. It added that buyer interest had continued to improve and selling prices on most sites have grown ahead of expectations for the period from 1 July 2010 to 19 November 2010.

Compared to the same period last year, visitors to site are up by more than 15 per cent, private completions are up 26 per cent and overall unit sales are up 47 per cent.

Mortgage availability has continued to be limited, constraining the number of sales that can be completed. The firm said that although construction on sites was increasing, it remained strictly tied to sales rates.

Gleeson Capital Solutions, the firm’s PFI investment team, has been listed as one of two final bidders for the PFI social housing prospect in the north of England.

The group reported a strong balance sheet with a cash balance of £16.4m at 31 October.

“The continuing restrictions on mortgage availability and the adverse impact of the government’s spending review on consumer confidence mean that conditions in the housing market continue to be difficult,” the firm said.

“However, the board is increasingly confident that the group’s rigorous control of construction costs, coupled with a very disciplined approach to land acquisition, is laying down strong foundations for future growth.”

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