How the North West is leading UK construction’s fight back

The North West is leading the UK construction industry’s fight back – with the region “bucking the trend completely” in project starts – and experiencing “promising growth”.

Glenigan, a construction industry insight and intelligence firm, said on Monday that despite project starts declining consistently across the board, a slowing rate suggests an upward trajectory is due towards the end of the year.

It said the one region showing “particular promise” is the North West, with the highest value of underlying project-starts in the country (less than £100m in value) – up 58% on the same time in 2020 and 13% on 2019.

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In the latest edition of its construction index, Glenigan said the region was also the only area of the country to experience growth on the preceding three months and was the best performing region against 2020 figures.

Rhys Gadsby, Glenigan’s economic analyst, said: “Although project-starts have consistently declined across most regions and sectors over the last five months, they’ve largely remained up on the previous year.

“This is particularly true of regions such as the North West that are bucking the trend completely and experiencing promising growth.

“As the only area of the country to see growth on the past three months, it’s in a strong position to weather the storm of declining project starts which other areas of the country have seen.”

According to the report, the residential sector “rouses hope”, with the value of work starting on-site increasing by over a quarter compared with the same time last year.

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Housing-wise, the North West is also showing “strong resolve”, with underlying-project starts for private housing up 143% on 2020 figures and increasing 36% on the same time period in 2019.

Nationally, private housing work starting on-site also climbed by nearly a third – 29%.

Social housing project-starts also rose by nearly a fifth on 2020 figures and 8% on the previous three months.

The hotel and leisure sector also performed well with project-starts rising by over a half (52%) compared with the same time last year.

Additionally, it was the only sector to achieve growth against the preceding three months with the exception of social housing.

The value of underlying-project starts (less than £100m in value) for the North West hotel and leisure sector also continued the trend, increasing by around two thirds on the same time period last year and 37% on figures two years ago.

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Overall, health was the stand-out non-residential sector of the period, increasing 9% against the past three months and up 3% on the previous year. In addition, health starts were up 89% compared with the same period in 2019.

Retail project-starts also saw an increase of 55% compared with the previous year and was up by 15% on the same period in 2019. However, the sector did experience a 30% drop on value of the preceding three months.

The North West also avoided an infrastructure “slump”.

Average UK infrastructure project-starts experienced a downturn, dropping by nearly a half against the past three months and standing 22% lower than 2020 levels. But for the North West, the value of underlying-project starts (less than £100m in value) rose by 87% on 2020 figures and 136% on the same time two years ago.

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