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Crest Nicholson pauses expansion amid economic uncertainty

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has put its expansion plans on hold as it was hit by a slowing economy.

The business said plans announced last year to expand into three new regions in the UK would be in part shelved for now.

Crest said on Thursday: “Given the current macro-economic uncertainty, the group has decided to defer the planned opening of a third new division in (the 2023 financial year) until further notice and will adjust the expected pace of growth across its existing divisions.”

Last October, Crest said it would enter Yorkshire, East Anglia and a third region of the UK that is yet to be announced.

The company has opened the first two already and said it has bought new sites in both Yorkshire and East Anglia this year. But the final, unnamed region, is the one that has been put on hold.

Chief executive Peter Truscott said: “We are pleased to have mobilised operations in Yorkshire and East Anglia with strong teams in place and good opportunities in these regions.

“Given the well-publicised economic conditions, we believe it is the right decision to defer the planned opening of a third new division and adjust the pace of growth in our existing ones until a more stable environment returns.”

But the circumstances have not impacted on the company’s outlook for the year – adjusted pre-tax profit is still expected to be between £135 million and £140 million, Crest said.

The business is also “confident in the long-term fundamentals” of the UK’s housing market, despite a recent downturn and forecasts of a major drop in house prices.

Speaking ahead of the Chancellor’s autumn statement on Thursday, Mr Truscott called on the Government to make changes to planning laws.

“We… hope that repeated commitments to reform the planning system will be delivered in the near term,” he said

“These changes should focus on releasing more land which can be immediately developed, helping the UK fix its longstanding shortage of housing stock.”