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Countryside Properties chief slams 'political positioning' for planning delays

Hundreds of new homes have become “victims of political positioning” in the run-up to the general election, Countryside Properties’ chief executive has claimed.

Ian Sutcliffe told Construction News that planning permission for 1,500 Countryside homes has been deferred or refused in the past two months alone.

He said: “These sites were allocated and had officer support across the board from the various different planning officers and ultimately have become victims of, perhaps, political positioning.”

The homes were spread across a number of sites and included affordable units, although Mr Sutcliffe declined to give exact details.

But Mr Sutcliffe said the “frustrating” slowdown in planning approvals had been expected and he anticipated it would correct itself “immediately” following the election.

The chief executive was talking after the housebuilder posted an 18 per cent jump in its completions for the six months to 31 March 2015.

The number of homes it delivered over the period rose to 949, compared with 806 for the same period last year.

Revenues increased by 58 per cent, rising from £159.2m to £252.2m, while operating profit jumped 85 per cent from £17.7m to £32.7m.

The housebulider acquired 18 sites over the period, totalling 3,291 plots and taking its overall landbank to 25,899, compared with 23,990 as of 30 September 2014.

The number of plots with deliverable planning consent stood at 12,753, compared with 14,218 for the same period in 2014.

The company acquired luxury housebuilder Millgate Homes in 2014, which Countryside said had now been fully integrated into the group and was “performing above expectations”.

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