THE country's largest housebuilder has posted a large rise in annual profits and hailed an "outstanding year".

Barratt Development said pre-tax profit rose by more than nine per cent to a record £835.5 million.

Completions were up just over one per cent to 17,579 - the highest number in a decade.

The average selling price on completion increased five per cent to £288,900.

Barratt said market conditions remain good and the availability of attractive mortgage finance and the Government's Help to Buy scheme continue to support "robust consumer demand".

Locally, the company's new housing estates include two in Lancaster - Riverside View, at New Quay Road, and Quernmore Park, at Quernmore Road.

Barratt chief executive David Thomas said: "As the UK's largest housebuilder we are helping to address the country's housing shortage - creating jobs and supporting economic growth while continuing to lead the industry in quality and customer service."

The comments came despite recent reports that Help to Buy will be scrapped in 2021.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at investment company Hargreaves Lansdown, said that while the results were positive, worries about the housing market persist.

"The market is worried about three things which are out of Barratt's control - Brexit, interest rates and Help to Buy," he said.

Withdrawing from the EU may not be "an entirely smooth ride", he explained, adding: "The Bank of England is raising interest rates, albeit slowly, but that's a reversal of direction from the last ten years of monetary policy.

"Finally, the end of the Help to Buy scheme is hoving into view, and unless the Government extends this in some form beyond 2021, that spells the removal of a key lynchpin in the new-build property market."