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Steve Morgan warns politics has ‘detrimental impact’ on gaining planning consents

Redrow has warned of the “detrimental impact” caused by “political posturing” on the time taken to grant planning permissions in the run up to the 2015 general election.

In an interim management statement today, Redrow chairman Steve Morgan said obtaining detailed planning consents and clearing “countless unnecessary conditions” remained a constraint on the business’s growth.

“Political posturing ahead of next year’s general election is already having a detrimental impact on the time taken to grant planning permissions in many parts of the country,” he added.

But he said this was despite an overall improvement in the planning system at a strategic level over recent years.

Demand for new homes following the launch of the government’s Help to Buy scheme had now reverted back to normal levels of activity, Redrow said.

This, coupled with a lack of availability on its sites due to increased sales, saw the group’s sales rate per outlet per week for its regional businesses dip to 0.65, compared with an “abnormally high rate” of 0.87 in the summer of 2013.

The last 10 weeks have seen a “traditional autumn market” with sales rates of 0.68, excluding London, Mr Morgan said.

The group’s London developments on release are almost fully sold, with year-to-date private reservations at 22 compared to 86 last year.

Cancellation rates remained at “historically low levels”, with the average selling price of private reservations in the year to date 4 per cent ahead of the same period last year at £284,000, due to limited inflation and a geographical mix.

Redrow’s private order book was up 10 per cent year-on-year at £465m, with the regional order book up 25 per cent.

Since the start of the financial year the housebuilder has added 1,500 plots across 14 sites to its current landbank, 520 of which were converted from forward land.

The total current landbank – land with a planning permission, both owned and contracted – has increased to 16,914 plots.

Net debt has reduced from £173m in June to around £120m currently. Mr Morgan said he expects this to be at around £150m at the end of December.

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