A NORTH-EAST housebuilder is focused on growth after strong sales bolstered its order book.

Bellway, which has headquarters in Newcastle, says reservations lifted 11 per cent between February 1 and May 31, with an average of 177 weekly viewings.

The company, which has developments in Darlington, Stockton, and Chester-le-Street, County Durham, revealed a forward order book of £670m, with net bank debt at £47m, down from £95m in the same period last year.

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Bosses say the improvement has been cultivated by Government’s Help to Buy scheme and their decision to spend £400m on land for future developments.

They revealed Help to Buy was responsible for delivering 879 reservations in the period.

Ted Ayres, chief executive, said: “The strong UK housing market and our disciplined approach to land investment provides a significant opportunity for ongoing volume growth.

“We have a substantial balance sheet and operational capacity for further expansion.

“Land with detailed planning permission is already in place to achieve next year's volume growth plans.”

Bellway, which has a divisional office in Gateshead, is also building in Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Washington, Wearside.