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Health helps give Wales a Q4 kick

Despite underlying starts being boosted by the health sector, the outlook remains tough

Wales has experienced a weak construction market since early 2007, although recent spending in the health sector helped bolster the value of underlying project starts in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Nevertheless, Glenigan expects the worsening economic conditions will further weaken construction starts over the coming year and recorded an 11 per cent decline in the value of underlying construction starts last year.

The value of underlying planning approvals halved last year and during the final quarter of 2008 was 59 per cent down on a year earlier. Private housing, offices and social housing were among the sectors with the biggest falls.

The first nine months of 2009 will be very tough, with the value of underlying construction starts falling by 16 per cent this year.

But a modest improvement is anticipated in project starts from the final quarter of this year, leading to a rise in project starts during 2010.

Health, education and utilities

More encouragingly, strong contributions from the education and health sectors partially offset the impact of the private sector project starts. Education project starts rose by 91 per cent last year, while health projects more than doubled in large part due to the £63 million Cynon Valley Hospital project starting on site during November.

In addition, work started this January on a £75 million dual carriageway at Pontypridd which should contribute to infrastructure workload over the next three years.

The utilities sector is providing several bright spots for Wales. Carron Energy’s £450 million gas fired power plant should boost construction activity over the next two and a half years, while several wind farms have also started on site in recent months. However, the rise in utilities projects will be insufficient to entirely offset the significant declines anticipated in other construction sectors.

Project focus

Client Royal Welsh College Of Music And Drama 029 2034 2854 www.rwcmd.ac.uk

Latest news Tenders were returned last month

Project Construction of a £20 million 450-seat concert hall and 160 seat drama performance and referral facilities in Cardiff. The associated works include access roads, infrastructure, enabling works, sewer systems and landscaping.

Parties include architect Hamiltons, project manager / quantity surveyor Davis Langdon, structural consultant / mechanical & electrical consultant Mott MacDonald Group

History This project is a redesign of a previous scheme for a new theatre at the same site.

What happens next The project starts in August and is scheduled to complete 23 months later.

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