Berkeley Wins Approval for 652 Homes in West London Project

Berkeley Group Holdings Plc won approval to develop as many as 652 homes at a west London parking lot.

The project near Marylebone rail station was approved late Tuesday by Westminster council after a 3-1 vote. London’s biggest home builder bought the 2.66-acre (1.1 hectare) plot in June 2015 and the development will include a 30-story tower, a spa, offices and stores.

Berkeley Group shares rose as much as 2.42 percent on Wednesday, the most since April 5, in London trading. The stock was trading at 3,051 pence at 08:15 a.m.

A record number of luxury homes are planned in London’s best districts even as demand wanes. Home values in Westminster rose 6.7 percent in the 12 months through February to an average of 1.06 million pounds ($1.52 million), according to the Land Registry.

Short interest in Berkeley climbed to almost 6.5 percent of shares outstanding this month, the highest since 2008. Hedge funds including Odey Asset Management LLP and Marshall Wace LLP raised short positions in the builder as the luxury-homes market slows, according to filings last week. The stock is down about 17 percent this year.

Crispin Odey’s fund has the biggest individual short bet, holding 1.4 percent of shares outstanding. Officials at the company didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment. A spokesman for Marshall Wace declined to comment.

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