But housebuilder reports ‘sustained period of demand’ since lockdown

Completed sales at Countryside slumped by almost 30% over the past year as the housebuilder struggled to cope with the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

In an end of year trading update to the City, the firm said the number of homes completed in in the year to 30 September fell by 29%, to 4,053.

Countryside Properties MMC factory, Warrington

Countryside’s existing modular housing factory in Warrington

The biggest fall was in the construction of homes for private sale, which slumped a third from 2,177 to 1,454.

But the firm said its sales had rebounded since the lifting of lockdown restrictions, recording 0.78 overall reservations per site week over the year, only slightly down on the 0.82 recorded in 2019.

Since June, when it reported sales per week of just 0.5 over lockdown, the firm said that “we have seen a sustained period of demand during the summer as the market recovered”.

However, it said that given the “uncertain” economic outlook, it was planning to focus delivery in 2021 on affordable and build-to-rent schemes, rather than relying on private sales, despite the lower margins.

It said its forward order book was up on last year, with private reservations more than double that seen at the same point in 2019.

It also revealed that it has closed one of its private housebuilding offices, the Twyford home of the former Millage business it acquired in 2014, merging it into its west of England operation.

Countryside also said that previously announced plans for a new £20m modular housing factory capable of producing 3,000 homes per year were on track, with the facility in Bardon, Leicestershire, expected to be operational from autumn next year. The firm’s existing complex is in Warrington

The firm is due to release its full-year results on 3 December.