Country & Metropolitan meets demand for low-cost urban housing in the South and boosts pre-tax profit by 97%.

Country & Metropolitan’s decision to switch from premium to afffordable housing has contributed to a 97% increase in pre-tax profit to £10.4m for the year ended 30 June 2004.

The housebuilder withdrew from the premium housing market in the South to concentrate on building studios and one and two-bed flats on brownfield land.

C&M said that while there had been a significant slowdown of the housing market in the South East there was a tremendous pent up demand for affordable housing.

David Laing, group chairman, said: “Other housebuilders have been slower to react to the changing market place and it would be a great shame if negative comments in the press undermined house buyer's confidence, as the fundamentals are sound as demonstrated by these.”

C&M’s said there had been a strong level of sales in its Northern arm NorthCountry Homes, which is currently carrying out an aggressive land acquisition programme to exploit a buoyant market place.

In total the group owns or controls 2,800 plots with planning consent and a further 3,150 plots where planning has been applied for or where terms have been agreed.

C&M announced an increase in final dividend from 2.60p to 3.025p and a 34.7% increase in turnover to £81.4m.