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With much of the media’s scrutiny focusing on large, iconic projects planned for the capital, it could be argued that some of the UK’s other large cities are sometimes forgotten about. Despite grumblings about the effect that a hard, soft, or a red, white and blue Brexit might have on the construction industry, the biggest UK regional cities are reporting record levels of construction activity, boosted by new transport links and the rise in popularity of city centre living.
Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, all cities that O’Neill & Brennan have offices in, have all seen a significant increase in development across a number of sectors. In Birmingham, the amount of office space under construction has increased by 50% since last year, which incidentally is the highest level of activity reported since 2002. Furthermore, Birmingham has also witnessed a 10-fold increase in residential schemes that started last year, totalling 2,331 units in the city centre.
With the new High Speed rail line edging closer to completion, Birmingham is becoming a hub for the construction and civil engineering industries, with particular growth in private rented sector homes being built, buoying the city centre’s residential stock. Similarly, Residential development in particular is booming in Manchester too, with 22 residential projects in construction since last year, eight more than the previous high of 14 in 2007. The rental market continues to dominate, with a strong demand from businesses for office space in Manchester city centre.
Lastly, Leeds also saw the highest level of office space delivered to the market since 2007, as well as twice the average annual total of retail space with nearly 600,000 sq ft of new shopping projects started in 2016. This is the clearest sign yet that there was growth and resurgence in the UK’s regions, despite concern that economic prosperity was limited to London alone.
Whilst political and economic uncertainty could yet dampen investment in the coming years, as things currently stand, construction is very much in the ascendancy, with regional cities delivering growth and investment at levels not witnessed for many years.