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Office and residential construction in Leeds hits nine-year high

Construction activity in Leeds has hit a nine-year high after 16 new schemes got under way during 2015, according to data from Deloitte.

The Leeds Crane Survey for 2015 showed that 16 new schemes started on site during 2015, while the city also saw its highest number of residential starts since 2007.

Office construction almost doubled in 2015, with more than 865,000 sq ft now under construction, up from 425,000 sq ft in 2014. This is now the highest level of office construction on record, above the pre-recession peak of just under 700,000 sq ft in 2007.

Last year also saw six new residential starts, a stark contrast to 2014 when no new residential starts were recorded. In total, 365 residential units were either under construction or completed during 2015.

Angela Barnicle, director and head of real estate for Deloitte in Yorkshire, said the increase in office developments and the ”renewed confidence” in the market was also helping other sectors grow.

“It’s likely the residential market will continue to grow, linked to the increase in job opportunities being created by economic growth in the city. This will have a positive knock-on effect for other sectors, in particular leisure,” she said.

According to Deloitte, this increase in housing development was largely driven by changes to permitted development rights, which have boosted office-to-resi conversions.

There were also four education schemes under construction at the end of 2015, which included a total of 474 student beds. In November last year, the University of Leeds started the procurement process for a £27m innovation facility.

In retail, Hammerson’s Victoria Gate complex is still under construction, with work expected to be completed at the end of 2016. The construction of two new hotels also began in 2015, comprising a total of 224 beds.

“The pipeline for future investment suggests there will continue to be sustained momentum in the city with a strong mix of developments coming forward in 2016,” Ms Barnicle added.

“Leeds will however need to be mindful that our most recent Deloitte CFO survey has shown a more cautious outlook and lower risk appetite among CFOs, and it will require a sustained effort from both the private and public sectors to maintain the city’s planned development and construction trajectory.”

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