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Project stops surge 15pc as tenders hit three-year low

Virtually £3.2 billion-worth of work has been mothballed in the past fortnight, exclusive Construction News research reveals, as the credit crunch eats into the industry’s workload. By Steve Menary

A weekly survey for Construction News from information provider Glenigan shows that 214 projects worth £1.6 billion were put on hold last week.

The total value of work being shelved did reduce marginally but the number of projects being postponed surged 15 per cent as the industry faces its biggest challenge in a generation.

The number of projects being deferred in the social housing and medical and scientific sectors reduced last week but there was a rise in work being put off in all 10 other sectors covered by Glenigan’s research. The sector being hit the hardest, unsurprisingly given the slump in the market, is private house building, with nearly £500 million-worth of private housing work mothballed last week.

This ranged from a £9 million scheme at Park Place in Bristol for developer Urban Creation to a £75 million development in Plymouth for Devington Homes.

In the preceding week ending 17 October, another £747 million-worth of private residential schemes had also been put on hold, according to Glenigan.

With investors pulling large swathes of funding there has been a dramatic acceleration in the number of commercial office projects being put on hold.

Two weeks ago, just £104 million-worth of work in this sector was shelved but last week as stock markets around the world collapsed, another 37 commercial office developments with a total value of £479 million were postponed.

Schemes mothballed ranged from a £8.6 million office project at Manchester Business Park for developer Goodman to a £44.7 million project at Sydenham in south London for Castlemore, which had started to tender the job with Dean & Dyball and Norwest Holst among the contractors working up bids.

With so many jobs being shelved, work coming out to tender is falling away and, according to Glenigan, October saw the smallest amount of work put up for grabs for more than two years.

In October, contracts for building projects worth just £1.2 billion were put out to tender – the last time work out to tender in one month was this low was July 2005.

So far, only the building sector is being hit. Just a handful of projects in the civils sector have been shelved and the average value of work going out to tender has edged up for the past six months.