A HOUSEBUILDER has hailed “resilient” customer confidence but warned planning delays are frustrating its progress.

Persimmon says demand has remained healthy with buyers, buoyed by competitive mortgage deals, snapping up plots following the traditional summer hiatus.

Bosses say that clamour means the business is now sold up for the current year, with forward sales of £909m ten per cent better off than 12 months ago.

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However, officials at the firm, which has offices in Bowburn, near Durham City, warned its drive for growth is being stymied in places by a “challenging” planning landscape, adding skilled workers also remain at a premium.

Speaking today (Wednesday, November 8) during a trading update for the period between July 1 and November 7, Jeff Fairburn, chief executive, said the company had enjoyed a solid third quarter, pointing to buyers’ desire to climb the property ladder.

He said: “Customer activity has strengthened in line with traditional seasonality; consumer confidence is resilient and mortgage lenders remain keen to compete for new business.

“The group’s total sales rate per site has been in line with the prior year, which was 14 per cent ahead of 2015 due to particularly strong sales post the 2016 EU referendum.

“We are now fully sold up for the current year and have around £909m of forward sales.”

However, Mr Fairburn said the firm, which has its headquarters in York, with further offices in Newcastle and Thornaby, near Stockton, has been somewhat hindered by issues in securing land for plots, despite spending £147m and buying 5,526 plots during the period.

He said: “We remain focused on investment in land and the National Planning Policy Framework continues to task local authorities with identifying more land to be released for development.

“However, achieving detailed planning consent is proving as challenging as ever.

“We are keen to work with all stakeholders taking part in the Government’s Housing White Paper to establish more effective planning processes.”

Persimmon has developments in Shildon, County Durham, and Aykley Heads, on the outskirts of Durham City, as well as sites in Shotton, near Peterlee, east Durham, and Northallerton, North Yorkshire.