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Olympics chairman John Armitt joins Berkeley Group

Olympic Delivery Authority chairman and former Network Rail boss John Armitt is joining Berkeley Group as deputy chairman, the house builder announced today.

The news comes as the company reports a sterling set of results for the six months to 31 October, with a 40 per cent hike in pre tax profit to £100 million and revenue up 70 per cent to £405m.

However, that profit includes a £30.7 million exceptional profit from the disposal of a 51 per cent interest in a student scheme at Clapham Junction in September.

Mr Armitt replaces Victoria Mitchell, who will step down at the next AGM in September.

Chairman Tony Pidgeley said:  “I am delighted to announce that John Armitt will become senior independent director before taking over as deputy chairman at the next AGM.  John is currently chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, having previously been chief executive of Network Rail plc and Costain plc.”

Mr Pidgley thanked Ms Mitchell for her “significant contribution to the group”, as he also welcomed Veronica Wadley and Glyn Barker to the board.

Berkeley confirmed that it is on track to double its earnings between April 2010 and April 2013. While the average sales price fell slightly to £254,000, this is expected to reverse in the second half of the year.

Mr Pidgley welcomed recent announcements aimed at stimulating the delivery of new homes. 

He said the draft National Planning Policy Framework addresses many of the obstacles within the current planning system, while the “innovative” new build mortgage indemnity scheme backed by government and developers is expected to enable people to take their first steps on the housing ladder.

He said: “The localism agenda and the government’s plan for growth represent the most significant changes to the housing industry for a generation.  When implemented effectively, I believe localism will achieve housing and economic growth at the same time as ensuring powerful local engagement, decision making and benefits for local communities. 

“The challenge for government policy at both national and local level is to reduce the burden of unnecessary red tape, regulation and bureaucracy which acts as a barrier to more housing by slowing delivery, in some cases by more than a year, following a resolution to grant planning. 

“Without addressing this issue, I fear planning on a large scale will become the sole preserve of the strongest and most financially secure developers which will be detrimental to the desire to increase supply and competition to stimulate economic growth.”

The company now has 26,404 plots in its land bank, compared with 27,026 in April. It has net cash of £13.9 million, down from £42m.

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