Housebuilder's half-year pre-tax profit falls 5.2% to £81.5m

Berkeley was upbeat about its second half performance after posting a drop in interim pre-tax profits.

The housebuilder also raised concerns about the planning system and the future impact of the recent interest rate rise on its activities.

Pre-tax profit fell 5.2% £81.5m for the six months to 31 October compared to £86m for the same period last year.

Chairman Roger Lewis said he was delighted with the results and said the second half performance would be boosted by the acquisition of the remaining 50% St James homes from Thames Water last month.

In the past six months Berkeley has also started a joint venture with Prudential called St Edward Homes.

Lewis’ upbeat forecast was tempered by caution over the wider economic situation. “There are uncertainties over UK interest rates and inflation, concerns over the affordability of housing and there remain threats to the stability of the world's economic and political climate,” he said.

Lewis highlighted the time it takes to get planning permission in the London and the South-east where most of Berkeley sites are concentrated.

Berkeley also announced it was returning £242m to shareholders.

Turnover for the six months fell 24.2% to £381m.