Tony Pidgley, Berkeley Group’s chief executive, has defended his decision to award himself a £31m bonus amid one of the housebuilding sector’s worst fortnights in recent years.

As part of the deal, Rob Perrins, the finance director, will get £12m and Tony Carey and Greg Fry, two other directors, will get £9m and £6m respectively.

The move comes amid news of mass redundancies at other housebuilders and after Taylor Wimpey failed to raise a £500m rescue package from investors.

Pidgley said: “Berkeley runs a different model to everyone else. It’s unfortunate amid all the other bad news but we are in a unique position.”

He said the group’s lack of debt made the payout, agreed four years ago, possible. “I have always been old-fashioned about debt. I don’t like it on the books.”