Housing association also sees starts on site drop by a third in pandemic-hit half year figures

Housing association giant L&Q has built fewer than half as many homes in the six months to the end of September than in 2019 as it dealt with the fallout from the covid crisis.

The London-based residential landlord said in a half-year update it had built 700 homes in the first half of the financial year, 53% down on the 1,505 built in the same period in 2019.

Hawkins Brown's proposals for the Citroen site at Brentford

L&Q’s proposals for homes in Brentford

It added that it expected housing sales for the year as a whole to be half the level anticipated before the pandemic struck.

This was despite the fact it actually saw sales margins increase in the period over 2019, and revenue from sales increased to £106m from £76m in the prior year.

Waqar Ahmed, group director of finance at L&Q, said: “Whilst all construction sites are open and have been operational since the summer, their initial closure at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has led, and will continue to lead to handover delays of new residential units as we adjust to revised working practices.”

The organisation started work on 1,598 new homes in the six-month period, down by a third from 2,454 in the same period last year.

The falls come after big drops in development spend in 2019 prior to the pandemic, with L&Q “pausing” new development starts last September in response to a weak London market and the need to divert capital spend to repairing fire-safety issues on existing blocks.

David Montague L&Q

The firm started work on 3,945 homes in the year to March 2020, itself 40% down on the 6,428 started the previous year. L&Q has an ambition to build 100,000 homes over a decade, a target which group development director Fiona Fletcher-Smith said in February that the organisation was still committed to.

On September 1 this year the firm announced that long-standing chief executive, David Montague (pictured), was stepping down to pursue other interests.