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Project approvals up 36% in Q1 2015

Planning approvals in the first three months of the year grew by more than a third compared with the same period in 2014, with non-residential projects leading the way.

According to data from the Glenigan Index, approvals were up by 36 per cent in the first three months of the year compared with the same period a year earlier, with non-residential approvals seeing a 54 per cent increase.

Despite the growth in project approvals, starts have remained flat over the last month, with figures for March showing residential starts remain unchanged on a year earlier and non-residential starts down by 1 per cent.

Civil engineering was the only sector to see growth in terms of starts last month, with numbers 3 per cent up.

This came in contrast to a year earlier, when the first quarter of 2014 saw activity rise by 22 per cent, led by a 33 per cent increase in residential starts and a 20 per cent rise in non-residential project starts.

Regionally, the North-east, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, East and South-east of England all saw marked rises in project starts during Q1 compared with the same period in 2014.

The South-west, West Midlands and North-west saw starts drop.

In London, the overall value of project starts for Q1 2015 stood at £2.2bn – the largest of any UK region, but 13 per cent lower than the same period a year before.

Elsewhere, starts in Scotland and Wales both fell in Q1, while Northern Ireland recorded modest growth of 1 per cent.

Commenting on the data, Glenigan economics director Allan Wilén said: “The overhang of last year’s relatively muted rise in approvals, coupled with some private sector clients potentially pursuing a ‘wait-and-see’ approach during the run up to the general election, may keep starts subdued into the second quarter.

“However this replenishing bank of prospective projects with detailed permissions bodes well for growth during the second half of this year, especially if a credible government emerges quickly from the aftermath of the election.”

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