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Project starts down 14% in Q4 2015 as London market contracts

Project starts fell by 14 per cent in the final quarter of 2015, according to data from construction intelligence provider Glenigan.

According to Construction News, in the three months to December 2015, non-residential starts fell by 8 per cent, while residential starts declined by 20 per cent.

Civil engineering starts also dropped by 21 per cent, after recording a fall of 1 per cent in the three months to November.

In the same period in 2014, residential starts grew by 1 per cent, non-residential starts were up 4 per cent and civil engineering starts fell 17 per cent.

The value of project starts for 2015 as a whole also declined for first time since 2009, dropping 4 per cent year on year. This is in stark contrast to 2014, when starts rose by 10 per cent.

Only four sectors saw project starts rise during 2015: private housing, education, industrial and utilities. All other sectors recorded a decline, in spite of the value of work receiving planning approval rising by 15 per cent over the same period.

Similarly, only three regions of the UK recorded growth over the course of the year: the East Midlands, the East of England and the North-east. Elsewhere, starts remained flat or declined.

In London starts were down 11 per cent, while Scotland and the South of England saw similar falls.

Commenting on the data, Glenigan economics director Allan Wilén said: “The wettest December on record has added to the industry’s woes.

“Moreover, sites will stay waterlogged for some time, hindering starts in the new year.

“We expect the upcoming output figures to reveal another quarterly decline in construction activity. The lack of new projects starting in 2015 will cause a New Year hangover for growth in early 2016.”

Data released earlier this month from the Markit/CIPS Construction PMI suggested that output had bounced back in December after falling during November, while forecasters remain bullish on the industry’s prospects for 2016.

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