Barratt reveals plan to restart construction work at 180 sites

Barratt Developments has become the latest UK housebuilder to set out plans to restart work on its construction sites.

The Leicestershire-based business said it will recommence work from May 11, initially to implement new safety protocols.

Last week, rivals Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Vistry Group revealed plans to reopen sites they shut down as the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

Barratt said it will open 180 sites, around half of its operations, before opening the rest in a phased process.

It said it does not plan to restart work on sites in Scotland at this time and “will keep this position under review”.

Last month, the company said it was in the process of furloughing around 85% of workers on full pay, but it said a “significant proportion” of its workforce will be able to return this month.

Barratt added it will not reopen its sales centres or show homes yet and will continue to look after customers remotely.

“In line with our commitment to put our customers first, we will be prioritising the completion of those homes that our customers have already exchanged or reserved.

The housebuilder said it has seen “reduced levels” of customer interest since the lockdown, and it expects reservations “to continue at low levels until sales centres and show homes reopen”.

Chief executive David Thomas said it has created a “detailed set of working practices and protocols” to ensure it can reopen construction sites safely, “in a phased and measured way which minimises risk”.

He added: “Our first priority is the health and safety of our employees, sub-contractors and customers.

“In line with our commitment to put our customers first, we will be prioritising the completion of those homes that our customers have already exchanged or reserved.

“I would also like to thank our employees who have been fantastic during this challenging time, both those who have worked hard to get us ready to restart and our employees who are not currently working, many of whom have been inspirational as volunteers in their local communities.”

Emilie Stevens, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Barratt is one of the last to signpost reopening, following rivals Taylor, Persimmon and Vistry in announcing plans to open construction sites as the UK looks toward easing lockdown measures.

“It’s an important step but it’s too early for a fanfare.

“We know life without a shop front is hurting Barratt’s new sales, with reservations low throughout lockdown, and with construction efforts prioritising homes already started any additional new completions are unlikely.”

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