Low-cost homes builder Bellway posted record profits and said urban regeneration schemes like a huge £1.5 billion project in north Solihull represent a growing part of its business.
The firm, posting its yearly results to July 31, yesterday remained upbeat about the coming year despite a slowdown in the housing market.
Pre-tax profits were up 6.2 per cent to £218.2 million as the Newcastle-based firm increased turnover by 7.8 per cent for the 12 months.
Bellway said in the first two months of the financial year business was up four per cent on the same period last year.
Chairman Howard Dawe said the land bank with planning permission had increased by 1,800 plots to 22,500.
He said: "Additionally, Bellway has, during 2005, entered into two large scale regeneration schemes on south Tyneside and north Solihull and while these schemes do not feature at present in our land bank, urban regeneration represents a growing part of the business."
Bellway aims to embrace new opportunities, the product of current government policy, and it was " hopeful of announcing further such schemes in the next 12 months."
As previously reported in The Birmingham Post, Bellway will help deliver the £1.5 billion transformation of north Solihull, which represents one of the country's largest regeneration schemes.
The project, which is expected to take 15 years, aims to improve the lives of 40,000 people in Chelmsley Wood, Fordbridge, Kingshurst and Smithswood.
The team leading the regeneration also comprises of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Whitefriars Housing Group and InPartnership. In posting Bellway's results, Mr Dawe said despite testing market conditions the firm had recorded its 14th successive year of volume growth.
He said " Home sales increased and the group's average selling price, up 1.5 per cent at £163,800, remains one of the lowest and most affordable in the industry."
He added that despite a challenging market the company remained confident about future prospects.
The record profits exceeded City forecasts of £215.4 million for the year.
Bellway warned growth in the coming year would slow as tougher market conditions took hold.
It indicated earnings may not increase at the same rate as the company used more incentives, such as part exchange and lower prices, to attract customers.
Despite that, its policy of forward selling meant it had £513 million in the order book at the start of the new year.
Revenues jumped from £1.09 billion to £1.18 billion. Bellway announced a 25 per cent increase in the full-year dividend to 311/4p. Shares closed down 91/2p to 865p.