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Bubble-bursting pipelines can unlock regional markets

There a number of things you might typically hear when talking to local enterprise partnerships.

There a number of things you might typically hear when talking to local enterprise partnerships.

“We’re a growing market.” “There’s a lot of opportunity here.” “There’s massive potential for your business.”

Every region will try to blow its own trumpet, and you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve heard it all before. That’s why quantifying any potential opportunities, especially in the construction industry, is becoming even more important.

Data opportunity

With a market that’s still skewed towards London and the South-east, regions face the challenge of ensuring their offer to contractors stands out.

Derby and Nottingham’s new construction pipeline report, launched this week by local enterprise partnership D2N2, is one such example.

Unveiled at Derby College – one of those higher education institutions that does actually have a dedicated construction department – the report outlines more than £10bn of work that could be available to contractors over the next four years.

”Pipeline data can help regions lure big clients and contractors out of the London bubble”

The report’s authors freely admitted they had followed in the footsteps of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, which now publishes a yearly construction pipeline to help both local and national businesses identify opportunities in construction.

The GMCC’s latest pipeline stretches across the whole North-west – not just Manchester but Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria – to really set out where the work is going to be and in which sectors. In total, it highlights £114.36bn of projects in the planning pipeline.

Putting a number on the value of future construction work is important, for both large and small contractors.

It shows local training firms and education institutions where the potential skills shortages are, giving the opportunity for these to be nipped in the bud before they arise.

Getting out of London

Evidence from the East Midlands suggests bigger contractors are turning down work under £10m, while a lack of smaller regional firms means populating tender lists has become difficult.

But with pipeline data laying out where the work will be, how much it will be worth and what sectors it will focus on, contractors can really quantify where the opportunities are, rather than relying on assurances from local government.

Recent data shows regional markets are still struggling in certain aspects – just last month I wrote how commercial data suggests the focus on London and the South-east hasn’t shown signs of shifting, while last week’s Markit/CIPS Construction PMI indicated a slowdown in activity.

If anything, this shows the importance of setting out pipelines for local stakeholders – not just for attracting regional investment, but luring big clients and contractors out of the London bubble.

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