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Civil engineering cushions general decline

Activity from major utilities projects offers cheer to otherwise subdued region

Following a 21 per cent fall in the value of construction starts during the preceding 12 months, 2009 is proving to be another difficult year for construction in Yorkshire and Humber. Glenigan suggests that severe declines across several sectors are, however, being partially offset by activity in others.

The sharp fall in new projects during 2008 was led by a 34 per cent fall in starts for private housing – typically a leading sector in the region. This decline coupled with the slump in the housing market has had a knock-on effect on social housing activity.

The value of social housing starts was 81 per cent down year-on-year during the fourth quarter of 2008, and whilst this figure has recovered during the first half of 2009, the flow of private housing projects has remained weak, being 44 per cent down on a year ago.

Looking ahead, private housing planning approvals were 61 per cent down year-on-year for the first five months of 2009. The pre-construction pipelines for the retail, industrial and hotel and leisure sectors have also continued to shrink, with approvals for industrial projects during these first five months 65 per cent down on a year before.

On a positive note, the region saw a 42 per cent increase in civil engineering starts last year, driven by a surge in utilities projects. The upturn was accompanied by a jump in planning approvals, pointing to a further strengthening in civil engineering developments in the region during 2009.

Overall, Glenigan expects the flow of project starts to remain subdued during the second half of this year. Several large projects gained planning approval in 2008, including a £100 million biorefinery and a £100m waste management facility, and these should help temper the downturn. Nevertheless, Glenigan forecasts a 19 per cent decline in the value of starts for 2009.

Project focus: Civic & Cultural Quarter

Client: Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council

Contact: Dave Hazard, project manager, 01302 734444

Value: £300m

Details: This urban regeneration scheme comprises the redevelopment of the Waterdale area of Doncaster in a series of four phases. The first phase is aiming for completion by 2010 and will include a new performance venue, public realm and civic square, and a four-star boutique hotel on the site of former school buildings. Phase one will also see construction of new civic offices and council chamber, pedestrianisation of Waterdale Road and surrounding streets, as well as residential developments. From the second phase will come a new multi-storey car park, new office developments and the redevelopment of a theatre site to form a leisure development. A new library, resource centre and a residential development will make up the third phase, while the fourth will see further residential developments and additional leisure facilities.

Schedule: The project covers various sites in Doncaster and is scheduled to commence work in January 2010, with the fourth and final phase due for completion by the end of 2015.

Latest news:Morgan Sindall’s regeneration arm Muse was awarded the £300m contract in April, and outline plans for the four stages involved were recently submitted.