INDUSTRY experts are split in their predictions for the start of an upturn in the commercial building sector.
James Hastings, head of construction forecasting at Experian Business Strategies, told a seminar at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors last week that recovery in the office sector would start during the second half of this year.
But while Allan Wilen, economics director of the Construction Products Association, agreed that the sector would recover he predicted the office market would remain stagnant a little longer.
He said: 'The reason for the difference in our forecast is that a lot rests on assumptions.We can both see the recovery coming, just at different times.' CPA figures predict an 8 per cent growth in office deals by 2007.
Highlighting other potential growth areas, Mr Hastings said: 'Ports and harbour work is worth close to £1 billion and there may be more in the pipeline. Nuclear decommissioning will be worth £1 billion a year for the next 20 or 30 years but construction may only account for 10-20 per cent of that, depending on categorisation.'
Mr Wilen said: 'Infrastructure has been weak and remains weak. Overall it has fallen by 12 per cent and we anticipate further weakness this year with only modest growth in 2006.'