A shift in construction contracts out of London and into the Midlands will help support a sector experiencing uncertainty amid a prolonged Brexit negotiation in the region.
That’s the view from Crown Group boss Gareth Emberton on a new report which shows major regeneration and infrastructure project work is moving from the capital to the rest of the UK.
Analysts for Barbour ABI and the Construction Products Association says investment in housebuilding, infrastructure and commercial property in Scotland and the West Midlands had the highest growth.
The total value of contracts awarded in London was £13.1bn last year, down 14.6 per cent on 2015.
Gareth is the managing director of the commercial landscaping specialist Crown Group which works with construction giants including Bowmer & Kirkland and Galliford Try, on projects across the UK.
“There’s no doubt that construction firms are facing numerous challenges currently – such as finding enough people with the right skills and the fact that may are reliant on workers from overseas.
“But one of the biggest issues they may face in the coming months is the effect uncertainty over Brexit will have on decision-making in terms of big project development.
“We saw the slowdown ahead of the referendum and when the economy slows, the construction sector is one of the first hit,” added Gareth, who is also Chairman of a regional organisation championing the sector, Shropshire Constructing Excellence.
However the shift to investment in the central part of the country is a good sign, he said.
“I think it isn’t just down to HS2, but could also be as a result of the Government’s drive to grow the Midlands economy through the Midlands Engine and the £392m is has invested in the region to do just that.
“There was also some good news in the Queen’s Speech for the sector, which perhaps missed out on bigger headlines due to the Brexit focus.
“As well as the expected HS2 bill which will the construction of the Birmingham to Crewe connection fast-tracked, the Queen also confirmed moves to support more technical training which will undoubtedly benefit our industry. ”
Crown Group is experiencing significant growth in its facilities management and environmental management divisions as well as its core business of delivering integrated design, building and maintenance services for construction and landscaping projects.
The firm has doubled in size in the last year and now employs more than 60 people across the country.