Berkeley boss admits he has looked at central London site but won’t “pay telephone numbers”

Tony Pidgley, chairman of Berkeley Group, has said he considered buying the Noho Square site in central London but was put off by the asking price.

Speaking ahead of the company’s trading update today, the Berkeley boss said he had looked at the former Candy & Candy development but any deal had been made unviable by the reported asking price of about £125m.

He said: “We had a look when we thought it might be in the £50m to £70 range but that time has come and gone. Nobody I know will pay telephone numbers for sites like that.”

The Candys, backed by Icelandic bank Kaupthing, paid £175m for the Fitzrovia site in 2006 and won approval for a 890,000 sqaure feet mixed use scheme that included more than 200 luxury apartments.

Through CB Richard Ellis, Kaupthing has said it will now sell to the site to the highest bidder.

It is also understood Gerald Ronson has previously looked at the site.

One source close to the bidding process said: “The world and his dog have looked at the site but I know a lot of people have been put off by the asking price. The talk was about £70m a year ago – how can it have doubled since then?”

Asked whether he feared a double dip this year in the housing market, Pidgley said: “Nothing has changed in the economy. We need one of these political parties to put the housing industry back together.”

In its trading update, Berkeley said it had made enough sales to meet the board’s expectations for the year end 30 April 2010

It said: “In terms of its cash position, Berkeley began the year with £284.8m of net cash and this increased during the first half of the year to £344.7m at 31 October2009.”

It added: “Underlying transaction levels remain approximately 40% below historical average levels, consistent with the trading update provided with the interim results in December 2009. Berkeley has adjusted its business to match supply to this level of demand. Sales prices have been stable in the period with cancellation rates at normal levels.”