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Architects’ confidence increasing … outside London

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Architects’ optimism has continued to grow, according to an RIBA report, with an increase in the number of practices expecting to become busier in the next three months

The institute’s Future Trends Workload Index hit a reading of +17 in February, up from +12 in January, +8 in December and -1 in November.

This means the balance of practices expecting to become busier over the next three months has grown steadily through the winter.

No regions returned a negative outlook in February, but there was an equal number of firms expecting growth and decline in workloads in Northern Ireland.

London’s balance was barely any better, at +1, while practices in the surrounding South East were much more optimistic with a reading of +21.

The North of England was the most positive, with a balance of +32 per cent of firms anticipating growing workloads.

Smaller firms were more optimistic than larger ones in February, the data showed.

Private housing remains the sector to be looking at, with a balance of +21 per cent of practices expecting workloads to grow in this area.

Commercial work was expected to grow, hitting a reading of +7 on the index, and public sector work returned to the black with a balance of +2.

The outlook in the community sector was less upbeat at -4 in February.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index grew from +5 in January to +6 in February. Medium-sized practices were more optimistic about growing their headcounts than larger or smaller firms.

Comment

RIBA executive director Adrian Dobson said: ‘Commentary received from our participating practices continues to suggest a reasonably steady if not growing market.

‘However larger practices and those based in London and Northern Ireland remain pessimistic about their future workloads; this is most likely due to the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations and also perhaps the current lack of a sitting government in Northern Ireland.

‘The private housing sector seems to be the main engine of any growth and a number of practices have commented that a fast-developing build-to-rent market is paramount to their current and future workloads.’  

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