Back to News
5 March 1997
It is pleasing to report that each division of the Group is trading well. The improving housing markets and increased tenant and investor interest in commercial property are most encouraging.
Forward sales of the Group’s new housing are well ahead of the position at this time last year. In consequence we have fewer built and unsold new homes than at any time for several years. We also have less part exchange properties awaiting re-sale than has been the case for some time, although part exchange remains an important part of our sales strategy.
The improved housing markets have led to increased selling prices and thus improving margins. However, we must remain wary of the uncertainty that the forthcoming General Election might bring, as well as the possible need for tightening of monetary policy by Central Government.
Our decision to widen our product range of new homes and to develop under two brand names targeting different sectors of the market is proving to be highly successful. Countryside Residential, which specialises in higher quality homes is trading well, whilst Copthorn Homes, which concentrates on the first time buyer and first mover markets, is making excellent progress and will this year produce a record number of new homes.
As I mentioned in my annual statement to shareholders, the improving housing markets have led to an upsurge in land prices in the South East indicating a serious shortage of sites which are suitable for development in those areas of highest demand. The shortage of suitable sites, along with the considerable delays in the processing of planning applications by Local Authorities, are the biggest problems being faced by the housebuilding industry.
It is therefore fortunate that the Group has such a strong land position with the benefit of planning permission. We must not rest on our laurels in this respect, however, and we continue our search for economically viable new development opportunities.
Alan Cherry, Chairman Tel: 01277 260000
Graham Cherry, Chief Executive Tel: 01277 260000
Issued by Binns & Co Public Relations Ltd Tel: 0171 786 9600
The Group is already most active in urban regeneration with its involvement in the re-development of the former Royal Navy docks at Chatham Maritime as well as other large schemes, including the Five Estates project in the London Borough of Southwark and the New Kingshold Estate in the London Borough of Hackney. This experience will, I am sure, stand us in good stead as more and more emphasis is placed by Government on increased urban regeneration.
Whilst urban regeneration is expected to be an expanding activity for the Group, it is recognised that not all the new housing required by the nation can be provided by this means. A large number of new homes will therefore have to be developed on greenfield and other sites beyond the urban areas.
In this latter respect the Group is now recognised as one of the leading companies in the industry with the proven ability to create sustainable new communities. Our large strategic projects at Great Notley Garden Village in Essex, St. Michael’s Mead in Hertfordshire and our involvement in the Kingshill Villages in Kent, are all making good progress and attracting increasing attention from those looking for good examples of new community development. I am pleased that our reputation in this activity is leading to the Group being invited to promote more new developments of this type.
Our social housebuilding business is making good progress this year and is securing a number of new contracts. This is despite the Government cut-backs in funding for Housing Associations. Indeed, of our current social housebuilding programme less than 30% of the funding is being provided by Government support through The Housing Corporation. Government funding is increasingly being replaced with finance provided by the private sector. We therefore expect to successfully continue our involvement in the supply of new social housing and we are expanding our programme partly through our office in Bristol serving the South West, and our recently opened offices in Manchester and Middlesbrough serving North of England.
Turning now to commercial property, I am pleased to say that at last this sector is showing signs of recovery and the Group is beginning to make some real progress through Countryside Commercial, its commercial property development subsidiary. I would expect this to make an increasing contribution to Group results in future years.
In conclusion, I am confident that the Group will make further progress this year and that its results will be considerably better than last, with all divisions of the Group performing successfully.
ALAN H CHERRY MBE
5th March 1997
Back to News
Information correct as at 04/08/2008