House builder Bellway has reported a 6.5% increase in the number of housing completions for the six months ended 31 January.

A total of 4,462 houses were completed, up from 4,188 in the same period a year earlier.

The Newcastle-based firm said demand for houses remained robust during the six-month period, supported by a competitive mortgage environment and the government's Help to Buy scheme.

Bellway's forward order book rose by more than 9% to £1.1bn ($1.4bn) in value.

"The strong order book and investment in work in progress should mean that the group is able to deliver further volume growth of around 5% in the current financial year," a trading statement said.

The firm expects to announce operating margin of around 22% for the six months to 31 January period.

Chief executive Ted Ayres said: "Bellway has delivered another strong half year result, increasing both the number of legal completions and the value of the forward order book.

"Market conditions remain positive and accordingly Bellway is continuing to invest in a controlled manner, both in land and work in progress, in order to achieve further disciplined volume growth, thereby creating additional value for shareholders."