UK construction and property
- Infrastructure | Water companies in England have committed to tripling investment plans and undertaking the biggest modernisation of the sewers since the Victorian era to reduce sewage spills. However, the plans quickly drew criticism as it was revealed that the £10bn investment would be passed on through higher bills.
- HS2 will hold a bidders day in July in Manchester for the next tranche of work including MEP, urban realm, station fit out and drainage work. However, in the Midlands, teams are being stood down as the recently announced “rephasing” comes into effect. Works are coming to a “safe stop” between Birmingham and Lichfield.
- Civils work | Trade body CECA has warned that evidence of falling orders for civil engineering activity should concern policymakers. The sector is struggling under rising inflation, supply chain disruptions, and a loss of business confidence. Preliminary works and motorway trunk roads showed the greatest slowdown but non-renewable electricity, local roads and airports are also declining compared to 12 months ago.
- Highways England announced that it will focus on projects less than £25 million, and motorway renewals after its smart motorways programme was cancelled.
- Railways plan | Network Rail has set out its £44bn spending plan for the next five years. A top priority is to find £3.8bn in efficiency gains on programmes and it will also work to improve climate resilience in the network by doubling spending on embankments and drainage to £1.8bn between 2024 and 2029.
- Pipeline | Data from Glenigan shows that project starts have fallen in all sectors except for education in the last 12 months, yet planning approvals grew 65% in Q2 2023, and are 27% higher than last year. Office approvals were up 8%.
- Second staircase | Uncertainty over the rules requiring second staircases has encouraged Clarion to pause work on 15 schemes containing over 2,000 affordable units.
- Property register fines | Fines worth as much as £1bn on foreign companies breaking transparency laws are yet to have been enforced. In 2022 the Economic Crime Act introduced a register to reveal money laundering through UK property and also to understand the extent of Russian ownership.