Ambitious government targets to ease housing shortages and help first-time buyers into homes look 'increasingly unrealistic' as the mortgage crisis hits house building around the country, ministers were told yesterday. Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph

Housing organisations joined builders to warn that Gordon Brown’s target of building 2m homes in the next eight years is looking a forlorn prospect.

Persimmon, Britain’s biggest housebuilder by market capitalisation, yesterday became the first to admit publicly that it was shelving plans to develop new sites, raising the prospect of sites lying undeveloped for years.

'In a market place where you can’t sell property, there is little point in opening new outlets,' said Mike Farley, chief executive, confirming what many housebuilders have been saying privately for some time.