Berkeley defies the downturn as housebuilder's profits surge 64%

Mortgage indemnity plan will help many get on to the property ladder, says Tony Pidgley

One of Britain's most influential housebuilders has hailed government plans to guarantee loans for first-time buyers and shake up the planning system as "the most significant changes to the housing industry for a generation".

Tony Pidgley, the veteran chairman of Berkeley Homes, whose personal story has become the stuff of legend, said the mortgage indemnity scheme to protect banks against losses on mortgages would "enable many people who aspire to own their own property to take the first steps on the housing ladder".

He was speaking as the company posted a 64 per cent surge in pre-tax profits to £101m for the six months to 31 October on revenues up 20 per cent at £405m.

Mr Pidgley said many people otherwise able to afford homes were prevented from buying because of lenders' demands for huge deposits. "Of course there have to be checks and balances in lending but I think the majority of people are responsible. There are people who can afford to enter the housing market but who in my view are prevented from doing so by these deposits," he told The Independent.

The Government's "localism agenda" and attempts to streamline the planning process have provoked controversy, with critics claiming that developers would be able to brush aside objections to plans that would involve concreting over parts of the countryside.

But Mr Pidgley said developers would have to "work with local communities" and gain their consent for the building of desperately needed new homes.

"Of course you're never going to get the support of everyone, but we find that by engaging with people and listening to them they are willing to work with you. Look, we need new homes. We desperately need new homes. I want to put on record that I support what the Government is doing with this. I find it refreshing and I hope they carry it through. I think they will carry it through."

Mr Pidgley, whose company sold 1,506 homes between May and October, an increase of a fifth over the same period last year, said he hoped the reforms would eliminate delays of up to a year between the granting of planning permission and the start of development. These delays were caused by "red tape, regulation and bureaucracy", he said.

Mr Pidgely has been described by the leading trade magazine Building as "Britain's most influential housebuilder" and has garnered a string of accolades, most recently from Management Today and Birmingham City Business School, which crowned Berkeley as Britain's Most Admired Company.

A Barnado's boy, Mr Pidgley was adopted at the age of four by travellers and spent part of his formative years living in a disused railway carriage. He was barely able to read and write when he left school at 15, but that proved no impediment to a spectacular business career during which he set up a haulage business which had a fleet of more than 40 lorries by the time he sold it to Crest Nicholson five years later.

He went on to set up Berkeley, which he floated in the mid-80s, and has seen off two attempts to wrest it from him. One was from his own son, the other by the financier Guy Hands, best known for his disastrous acquisition of EMI.

Yesterday's results gave a picture of a company in rude health. Berkeley expects to exceed the City's full-year forecasts, in part because of the sale of a postgraduate accommodation scheme for Imperial College.

The group focuses on big-ticket regeneration projects in London and the South-east and has 10,000 plots of land ready for long-term development.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent