Project starts down a third on a year ago, new data reveals

The value of main contracts awarded dipped by almost a quarter (24 per cent) compared with the previous three months, to stand 33 per cent below the year before.

Glenigan said: ‘These disappointing figures were echoed throughout the construction pipeline.’

Glenigan said the weak figures were ultimately down to ‘sustained external pressures’.

According to the AJ’s sister title Construction News, the monthly average now stands at £5.9 billion, 33 per cent below its level a year ago. The figures include major projects worth more than £100 million, as well as underlying projects valued at less than £100 million.

Glenigan said these findings were ‘indicative of recovery on the horizon, buoyed by upcoming planned major works, which will provide a much-needed boost to the industry’.

However, there were some bright spots in the findings. Residential construction increased by a fifth (21 per cent) during the review period, although it remains 26 per cent lower than a year ago. Meanwhile, private housing starts increased by 40 per cent.

Last week the AJ revealed that multidisciplinary practice Arup had made a wave of redundancies – including senior staff – after encountering a slowdown in work, including the pause in construction of HS2.

It explained: ‘Rising interest rates and inflated material, fuel and labour costs have shown no signs of easing in the short term, further weakening investor and consumer confidence.’

The value of detailed planning approvals fell by 26 per cent compared with the previous three-month period, although that figure was 37 per cent higher than it was a year ago.

‘In the short term, changing government priorities in the run-up to the general election are also likely to slow investment in major infrastructure projects, halting activity further. Despite this, residential construction offers a glimmer of hope, with increases in private housing starts helping to offset sluggish activity in this sector.’

Glenigan’s economics director, Allan Wilén, said: ‘Starts on site are softening and, as global and national disruption continues, we’ll likely see clients continue to adopt a cautious approach, pushing back start dates until the economic landscape looks less hostile.

Arup said the move was ‘in response to ongoing market volatility, coupled with a slowdown in some of our projects and to ensure the continued efficiency, versatility and resilience of our business’.