Construction moves to pre-lockdown levels

Construction starts are back to pre-lockdown levels, according to industry analysis of forthcoming projects.

The Glenigen Index found that the value of underlying construction work (under £100 million) commencing on-site during the first quarter of 2021 was 5% higher than the previous year and 2% higher than the preceding quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis.

low res builders on building site sstock

Of that, the value of residential work was 17% higher than a year ago and the preceding quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis.  In particular, private housing project-starts performed strongly and climbed 29% against the previous year and 24% against the preceding quarter. In contrast, social housing work starting on-site declined 9% against the previous year and 2% compared to the preceding three months.

Non-residential project-starts were down though, declining 2% against both the previous year and the preceding quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis. Education work starting on-site experienced a particularly poor period, having declined 28% against the previous year and 27% compared to the previous quarter. Hotel & leisure project-starts, despite being 16% higher than the previous quarter, were 40% lower than a year ago.

Rhys Gadsby, Glenigan’s Economic Analyst, says: “Project starts have grown strongly despite the UK being in national lockdown for the majority of the first quarter. Starts are at their highest level since September 2019. Private housing experienced a particularly strong period and was the main driver for overall growth, although industrial, offices and retail also achieved strong growth.

“Looking ahead the construction industry and its clients should have greater confidence to move more projects to-site during the second quarter as lockdown measures are progressively eased.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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