Housebuilders Persimmon and McCarthy to close construction sites

LONDON (Reuters) – British housebuilder Persimmon (PSN.L) and retirement home developer McCarthy & Stone (MCS.L) are starting an orderly shutdown of their construction sites in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the companies said on Wednesday.

Work on building sites has not been barred in Britain but a government order for people to maintain a safe distance of two metres apart is making it difficult for them to comply on a busy development.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said many construction workers are still using the transport network to commute, meaning work must stop to prevent them gathering in a confined space.

Persimmon said on Wednesday it was now starting to shut down sites, with only essential work taking place focused on making partly built homes safe and secure and where failure to complete the build could put customers in a vulnerable position.

Chief Executive Dave Jenkinson said the company’s primary concern was the safety and well-being of customers, staff, contractors and suppliers.

Dave Jenkinson said:

“We will listen carefully to the government’s future advice as the situation develops and will make further adjustments where necessary.”

Housing minister Robert Jenrick said a number of building companies had concluded they could not follow the public health advice and were choosing to close down their sites.

Jenrick told BBC TV on Wednesday:

“In some cases, they’re doing so over a short period of time so those sites remain safe and that’s the right thing to do.”

But he added if a worker or employer believed they could continue to operate safely within those guidelines “it is sensible for you to do so”.

He said some construction was essential such as building maintenance and essential repairs.

Persimmon also said its sales offices would close from Thursday, and it would cancel the dividend of 125 pence a share due to be paid on April 2 and postpone the payment of 110 pence a share on July 6 to conserve cash.

Retirement homes developer and manager McCarthy & Stone said it was pausing all building across its development programme with the exception of certain sites close to completion in response to Monday’s government directive to “stay at home”.

Chief Executive John Tonkiss said the company had offered more than 300 of its newly built apartments to the government to assist the national health service accommodate older people as they recover from the virus or for health workers.


Kindly shared by Reuters UK