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astragal

Can we really be about to experience a recession, as some excitable scribblers in the world of architectural magazines would have us believe? It doesn't seem entirely credible if you compare the amount of architectural job advertising currently being published with the situation a year ago. A rough estimate suggests it is 30 per cent greater.

On the basis that architects are the first to get the benefit - and first to feel the impact - of boom and bust, we don't seem to be there yet. Nor is the property market as bombed-out as some would have us believe. It is true that the City of London office market is going off the boil, and we can assume that rents will drop accordingly. But that will be from very high levels. The important thing is the major projects in London now under way, which will take many years to finish. Add to this the government-backed social housing programme about to engulf us and things don't look too dismal at all. Incidentally, commercial property was the best-performing investment asset between 1997 and 2001. Finally, I quote the headline from the RICS Policy Unit's latest construction market survey: 'Skill shortages rise sharply as activity remains robust'.

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