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How the regions are baring up to the downturn: SOUTH WEST

For years inhabitants of the South-west have been considered a robust and independent people. Now the same can be said of the region’s construction sector.

The area has seen a rise in year- on-year activity, despite a decrease in infrastructure.

The year in infrastructure did not start well for the South-west when the £510 million job to dual the A303 and to bore a tunnel for the road near Stonehenge was shelved.

Then only a few months later the £500 million project to build a tidal power station in the Severn Estuary was put on hold due to lack of Government approval and funding.

But these setbacks were just a blip for the region, which unlike the rest of the country hasn’t experienced a massive downturn in house building.

The region’s most populated city, Bristol, has been insulated from the demise of large-scale residential schemes.

Plans for hotels and commercial space continue to be submitted and approved, largely on the back of success of Cabot Circus, which is due to open later this year.

The South West Regional Development Agency’s £300 million Bristol and Bath Science Park is set to get under way later this year, leading an industrial boom in the entire region.

In Gloucester, Unilever has started building a £13 million low-temperature high bay bulk store for ice cream.

Though larger firms continue to dominate the £100 million-plus schemes, it is the medium-size projects where most of the work in the region can be found. That work tends to be dominated by local firms.

Balfour Beatty has snatched up Bristol-based Cowlin Construction and rail-led Dean and Dyball. Cowlin has given the construction giant a way into the local market. Under the Balfour Beatty name, the firm is working on £213 million-worth of work in the area.