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Architects in good mood as construction sector picks up

The UK construction sector is the most optimistic it has been since the start of the recession while architectural firms are hopeful of growing workloads, according to recent surveys

The RICS Construction Market Survey said the number of housing projects on site is rising in almost every part of the country, a U-turn on the consistent decline from 2007.

Meanwhile RIBA’s June Future Trends survey found more practices predicting an increase in expected workloads in the next quarter of the year, an improvement on the May results.

According to the RICS survey for the second quarter of the year, 21 per cent more surveyors reported rises in workloads - the most positive reading in more than six years.

And with 59 per cent more respondents expecting a rise in workloads over the next twelve months, the RICS predicted that the worst could be over for the sector.

The biggest rise was in London, the South East and the Midlands. However, Northern Ireland registered the lowest balance in the RICS survey, with a net balance of -4 per cent, although this was still an improvement on recent years.

Employment prospects in the sector are also the most optimistic in a number of years.

However, the RICS said that many businesses in the sector are still struggling to keep their heads above water.

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “Securing finance for development is still a big challenge and, despite the government’s attempt to revamp the planning system, the feedback we are getting suggests that this issue also remains a major obstacle to getting projects under way.”

The index for RIBA’s monthly survey of anticipated workloads and staffing levels bounced back to +17 in June, compared to +12 in May. The index has been in positive territory since last October.

The most significant increase was for the commercial sector, with the private housing sector falling back a little, although still in positive territory.

Practices predicted little change for overall workloads in the public and community sectors.

RIBA executive director membership and profession, Richard Brindley, said:

“Access to development finance for commercial projects, intense fee competition for domestic work, and the complexity and costs of public procurement processes remain the main challenges for architects. Despite these concerns we are now starting to see an increase in the number of RIBA members reporting an increase in inquiries and feasibility commissions.”

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