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Construction Downturn: West Midlands

The West Midlands has been slower to feel the effects of the credit crunch on private housing than many other regions.

However, a severe slowdown in private housing construction is set to impact the region during the last five months of the year.

The region has been affected by a large fall in construction starts for the office, retail and hotel sectors. Glenigan estimates that these two factors will lead to a 6 per cent fall in construction starts in 2008.

Strong public sector spending, particularly in social housing and education, has helped moderate some of the region’s fall in construction starts.

Looking forward, the value of planning approvals for social housing has remained firm but the value of approvals in the education sector is lower this year.

Prospects are unequivocally gloomy for the region in 2009. The paring back in education approvals has been accompanied by large falls in approvals for private housing, industrial, offices, retail and hotels.

In total, the value of planning approvals between January and July 2008 is down by 39 per cent on a year earlier – the largest fall in approvals for any region.