YORK housebuilder Persimmon is reporting a "strong" start to the year as turnover surpasses the billion pound mark.

A trade update from the Fulford-based firm showed revenues for the first half of the year hit £1.2 billion, up 33 per cent on the first half of last year when it stood at £900 million.

The announcement was made yesterday ahead of Persimmon's half year results to June 39, which will be released in August.

During the first six months of the year the group saw legal completions rise by 28 per cent year on year, up form 5,022 to 6,408.

Visitor numbers to Persimmon's UK sites were five per cent higher while cancellation rates remained at 16 per cent.

The group attributed a four per cent rise in average selling price, from £179,199 to £186,000, to "a continued increase in the proportion of larger family houses in the sales mix".

In its statement the group said: "Customer demand for good quality housing in attractive locations remains firm across all our regional markets.

"Mortgage lenders have continued to support customer access to the housing market, exercising discipline in the improving market."

The group met its expectations of opening 90 new sites, but reported its outlet network is slightly lower at 380 active site due to selling out a number of existing sites more quickly due to stronger sales rates.

Persimmon said it plans to open 100 new sites during the second half of the year.

The firm reported total forward sales revenue at of £1.18 billion, 28 per cent higher than the £920 million turnover in 3013.

Around 4,100 new homes have been sold forward by Persimmon into the private sale market which is 29 per cent ahead year on year, with an average selling price of £204,600 - a rise of three percent.

Land replacements through the first six months, totalling £290 million expenditure and 14,300 new lots, has been supported by the group's strong liquidity.

The group said: "With the gradual improvement in performance of the wider UK economy confidence in our regional markets across the UK remains positive as we enter the traditionally slower summer weeks.

"We will continue to focus on the successful delivery of our operational objectives and execution of our longer term strategy."