Latest Report Shows Manchester and Birmingham Building Boom

1st February 2017

According to the latest Deloitte Real Estate Crane Survey it appears that building is booming in the cities of Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Belfast.


The report, which monitors construction activity in the regional cities, has seen a significant increase in development across residential, offices, shops, hotels and student housing.


The rise is linked to an increased demand in city-centre living and better transport links in the regions. The positive outcomes of the report can only have positive reverberations across the cities and for the construction and property sectors across the UK.


In the Birmingham Crane Survey 1.4 million sq. ft. of new office space has been identified as being under construction, up 50% increase since a year ago (969,000 sq. ft.). The surge signals the highest level of activity since this report was first published in 2002. Birmingham has also seen a 10-fold increase in residential schemes starting construction last year, totalling 2,331 units in the city centre.


Manchester city centre saw a record 22 residential projects breaking ground on site last year. This was eight more than the previous high of 14 in 2007 and is set to deliver nearly 7,000 units to the market. Four of these tower blocks, all now under construction, are more than 25 storeys high, changing the city skyline forever. This includes the UK’s tallest residential tower.


Leeds saw 20 major construction schemes complete in 2016, including the highest level of office space (more than 700,000 sq. ft.) delivered to market since 2007, and the city also recorded six new office starts in the Deloitte survey. Retail led the way in Leeds as the delivery of new shopping areas doubled the average annual total of retail space with nearly 600,000 sq. ft. brought forward in 2016. By contrast, city centre residential construction remains modest in Leeds with only three new residential schemes starting last year.


Deloitte’s first ever Belfast Crane Survey recorded 19 schemes under construction and 11 schemes completing in 2016. This included four educational facilities, seven student accommodation projects, six office developments and eight hotels. Despite the changing face of Belfast, there is little new residential development going on in the city centre. Deloitte says that 84 residential units were completed in the city centre in 2016, and none are scheduled to come to the market this year.


Across the cities, the hotel sector is gaining momentum. The Belfast Crane Survey recorded six new hotel projects under construction, delivering more than 1,000 new hotel rooms; Manchester has 1,040 hotel rooms under construction; Leeds saw more hotel construction starts than at any other time in the last decade, adding 385 rooms into the development pipeline.


Student accommodation is also an increasingly active sector. Belfast has almost 2,500 bed-spaces across seven major projects being built in the city centre area. This is in addition to the 413 bed-spaces that completed in 2016. Birmingham has more than 1,000 student bed-spaces coming forward to support its growing student population.


The outlook is looking good for the major regional cities of Belfast, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester with plenty of inward investment and positive growth which will help thwart post-Brexit investment anxiety into these regions.

Tony Freeman
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