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Education is a rallying point

Healthcare is also performing well despite a wider slowdown in Welsh project starts

Wales has struggled with a weak construction market since the first quarter of 2007 and the economic downturn has not seen conditions improve.

Despite recent spending in the health sector providing a needed boost to the value of underlying project starts in the fourth quarter of 2008, prospects for the rest of 2009 remain bleak. Glenigan predicts a further decline in Welsh project starts, which is likely to reach double figures.

In 2008 the value of underlying planning approvals was down 59 per cent year on year, with private housing, social housing and offices experiencing the biggest declines.

Activity in the private sector has had a significant impact on project starts, for the offices and hotel and leisure sectors this has meant an 80 per cent decrease for the first three months of 2009.

The flow of new private housing projects has become almost extinct in Wales with project starts during the first four months of 2009 79 per cent down on a year ago.

The deterioration in the housing market has also had an impact on the region. Glenigan analysis suggests that the value of social housing projects starting on site would have fallen back sharply if not for a £50 million project in Newport funded by the Welsh Assembly, which started on site during the final quarter of 2008.

However, it’s not all been bad news for the region. Education project starts rose by 69 per cent last year, while health projects more than doubled.

Several upcoming projects should also see a welcome boost in construction for 2009, including Carron Energy’s £450 million gas-fired power plant and several wind farms which have started on site in recent months. In addition, work started this January on a £75 million dual carriageway at Pontypridd is expected to improve activity over a 3-year period.

Unfortunately these projects are not enough to save Wales from further downfalls in 2009/10. Following a poor first quarter, Glenigan anticipates that the value of underlying construction starts will remain weak during the next six months.

After suffering declines in the value of underlying planning approvals, the industrial, office, retail and hotel and leisure sectors are also expected to experience a significant contraction in underlying construction starts.

The next 6 months of 2009 will be very tough for construction in Wales, with the value of underlying construction starts predicted to fall by 17 per cent this year. Glenigan forecasts a modest improvement in the final quarter of this year, leading to a rise in project starts during 2010.

Client Focus: Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council

Major Project: Construction of a dual carriageway with many associated works including include street lighting, realignment of other minor roads, cutting and road construction with a licensed landfill tip and treatment of mineworking present along the route. This project began in January 2009 and is worth £63.24m.

Past Activity: Client is currently involved in 39 projects. From 2007 to 2009 ytd Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council have been awarded contracts in 17 projects, with a total value of £301m.

Latest News: In this year to date the Client has performed noticably well in Wales across the infrastructure and social housing sectors, with projects worth a total of over £200m.

Contractors they have awarded work to: Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons, BAM, Morrison Construction.

Contact: Head Office: 01443 424000,

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