Barratt plans 1,000 more homes as profits recover

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The Independent Online

Britain's biggest housebuilder was on bullish form today as it unveiled plans for an extra 1,000 homes in London and said it would more than double annual profits.

Barratt Developments' chief executive, Mark Clare, who has been putting the company back on firmer ground since its ill-timed £2bn acquisition of Wilson Bowden in 2007, will also pay a first dividend to investors since the credit crunch later this year.

The company has snapped up two major sites in London with a gross development value of £400m, in Southwark and Surrey Quays, adding to the 26,000 homes Barratt has built since setting up shop in the capital 30 years ago. Barratt has 22 sites under way in 17 boroughs.

London remains particularly buoyant, but the housing market is picking up across the country. Mr Clare said: "There are more signs of life in the mortgage market."

Like the rest of the industry, Barratt is benefiting from the £2bn it has spent on much cheaper land since the crash, which allows it to grow profits despite a slight fall in completions to 5,085 in the six months to 31 December.

Pre-tax profits will be about £45m for the full year, more than double the year before.