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Project starts plummet as industrial sector nosedives

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The Glenigan index of construction project starts fell 15 per cent in the three months to February compared to last year

Fresh data from the industry monitor linked the fall to a slowdown in private sector projects with publicly funded sectors such as health and education buffering the decline.

The largest drop was in industrial projects where starts on site fell 56 per cent in the period compared to 2012.

Comparatively, health starts were up 21 per cent while education starts increased 7 per cent.

Glenigan economist Andrew Whiffin said: ‘The poor start to the year continued in February and in stark contrast to what we saw in 2012 it is the private sector that leads the fall.

‘Starts were weak across the board but the industrial sector exerted the largest downward pressure on the index, starts 56 per cent down on a year ago. Last year new work in the sector was driven by starts from the light industrial and warehousing subsectors, but so far this year starts in these two sectors have dropped away.’

He added: ‘Despite government cutbacks public sector organisations do still have some resources available for capital spending. Industry activity has reflected this with increases in refurbishment and improvement work rather than building new, as organisations make the most of what is available.’

Housebuilding meanwhile witnessed a positive start to the year with new home registrations up 30 per cent compared to 2012, according to fresh NHBC data.

The organisation’s statistics show 10,112 new homes were registered in January 2013 compared with 7,831 in January 2012.

The Battersea Power Station redevelopment boosted the January figures, as more than 800 new properties were registered during the first phase of the project.

NHBC commercial director Richard Tamayo said: ‘We are heartened by the encouraging registration statistics for January which follow a strong end to last year.

‘The month’s figures were boosted by the high-profile Battersea Power Station redevelopment as well as an increase in the number of mixed-use developments. This will be a welcome bit of New Year cheer for house-builders up and down the country.’

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