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Crane survey: record activity levels in regions

1 February 2017

The biggest UK regional cities are reporting record levels of construction activity, according to the latest Deloitte Crane Survey

The report found Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Belfast have all seen a significant increase in development across a number of sectors.

In Birmingham, the amount of office space under construction has increased by 50% since last year, from 969,000 sq ft to 1.4m sq ft – the highest level of activity since the report began in 2002.

Birmingham also witnessed a tenfold increase in residential schemes starting construction last year, totalling 2,331 units in the city centre.

Deloitte found that as the new High Speed rail line moves closer to completion, Birmingham is becoming a hub for the engineering sector. Financial services companies are also going from strength to strength, it said, and the growth of private rented sector homes is buoying the city centre’s residential stock.

Manchester’s city centre had a record 22 residential projects breaking ground on site last year. This was eight more than the previous high of 14 in 2007 and is scheduled to deliver nearly 7,000 units to the market. 

Manchester’s skyline continues to evolve with the addition of four residential towers over 25 storeys high, all now under construction. This includes the UK’s tallest residential tower, marking a new era for the Manchester housing market.

Leeds also saw the highest level of office space delivered to the market since 2007, as well as twice the average annual total of retail space with nearly 600,000 sq ft of new shopping projects started in 2016.

For the first time Deloitte also included Belfast in its regional surveys and found that 19 projects, including offices, hotels and student halls, were under construction, and 11 had been completed last year.

However, residential activity was more subdued, with just 84 residential units completed in the city centre in 2016, and none scheduled to come to the market this year.

Simon Bedford, local government development partner at Deloitte Real Estate, said the surveys showed that there was growth and resurgence in the UK’s regions despite concern that economic prosperity was limited to London.

“All sectors are active and we conclude that our regional cities are delivering growth and investment at levels not witnessed for many years,” he said.

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