Key findings from JLL and Glenigan’s UK Commercial Construction Activity Index for Q4 2017 highlight an improved sentiment across the entire UK construction sector alongside an overall increase in construction activity for the second consecutive quarter, following growth of 7.9% in Q3, putting an end to the sharp decline seen since mid-2015

The UK Commercial Construction Activity Index also highlights movement across different sectors, with growth in Q4 predominantly driven by the office (up 11.2% to £4.5bn), education (up 12.0% to £3.5bn) and community (up 19.9% to £600m) sectors. Industrial, retail and hotel construction appeared mostly stable, while the medical sector saw a slight decline of 4.9%. Commercial construction activity in the 12 months to the end of Q4 2017 increased to £15.5bn, up 5.5% on the previous quarter. Within this, new build commercial activity increased to £10bn, reflecting growth of 6.7%.

Regionally, activity increased too, with total construction growing 4.8% to £9.1bn in Q4. Scotland and the North West were the strongest performers, with increases of 18.0% in both regions, led by activity in the education sector. London also saw growth in construction activity, following consecutive quarters of decline. Activity increased by 10.1% to £4.5bn, with the £1bn Google HQ in King’s Cross a key contributing factor to this rise.

Helen Gough, lead director PDS – Building Consultancy, Cost Management, Project Management, said: “Despite the increased activity, construction is slightly down on this time last year. Total construction is 6.7% lower than in the 12 months to Q4 2016, and we are still seeing a significant reduction in construction activity over the longer term, with total construction 37.3% lower in 2015, and 34.6% lower in 2014. It is promising however, to see that activity appears to have bottomed out in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum in 2016, and we are now seeing a return to modest growth.”

Allan Wilén, economics director, Glenigan added: “It’s also good to see that sentiment has improved over the last three months, undeterred by ongoing concerns relating to a potential skills shortage, tightening building regulations and Brexit-related economic headwinds. This increase in confidence points to a return to expansion, signalling good news for the sector.”

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