In the doldrums.

Residential construction drops 30%

Published:  13 June, 2011

UK: The value of residential construction starts was 31% lower for the three months to May compared to the same period last year, according to the latest housing figures from industry analyst, Glenigan.

Private housing starts were down 32% while social housing projects fell 28% during the quarter.

Glenigan economics director Allan Wilen said: "The shrinking pool of new social housing work is in stark contrast to the rapid government funded growth seen this time last year, and further retrenchment is expected through the year.

"The 14% drop in gross mortgage lending reported by the Council of Mortgage Lenders report and the 1.2% fall in house prices recorded by the Halifax paint a glum picture for the housing market that underlines the difficult trading condition faced by house builders.

"The fall in private housing project starts highlights developers' reluctance to open up new sites while conditions in the wider housing market remain weak, preferring to build out and secure sales on existing sites."

The North East of England performed worse with a 76% fall in private housing development starts; the South East suffered a 42% decline. London avoided a decline reflecting the strength of the wider housing market in the capital.

Mr Wilen said: "Although house prices and mortgage approvals are expected to remain weak near term, Glenigan is forecasting a modest uplift in project starts during the second half of this year as developers open up new sites in anticipation of a brightening in market conditions during 2012."

For construction as a whole, the value of projects starting on site in the three months to May was 21% lower than a year ago. The Glenigan Non-Residential Index for May is 21% down on a year ago.

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