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Out in the cold: new figures reveal the plight of the regions

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As London and the South weather the economic storm, the UK’s other regions suffer slow growth and a lack of demand

New data released by Glenigan has revealed the polarisation in workloads across Britain over the last 12 months.

The figures show the number of planning applications submitted in 2012 for projects worth more than £250,000 and confirm fears that the regions continue to suffer while London and the South weather the worst of the crisis.

Despite the UK economy returning to recession in April, the capital saw the amount of new schemes rise from 1,059 in 2011 to 1,157 this year.

This trend was highlighted back in March, when talk at the MIPIM property fair was of London’s flourishing residential market, corroborated by a glut of planning approvals for new housing schemes (AJ 16.03.12).

Surprisingly, the biggest growth this year was in the South West, which saw an 18 per cent boom from 851 projects in 2011 to 1,001 in 2012. This followed a welcome 17 per cent rise in the North East. There was also a 10 per cent rise in Scotland, increasing from 723 in 2011 to 792 in 2012.

Stephen Hodder, RIBA president elect, said: ‘These figures reflect the optimism of two years ago and the impact of the double-dip recession. They re-affirm the widely held view that there is variable activity across the country with the industrialised regions continuing to struggle.’

‘I would hope that initiatives such as the Future Homes Commission and its constructive recommendations for unlocking funding for much needed housing, together with a re-invigorated RIBA for Clients Service, may start to generate more regional opportunities for architects in 2013.’

David Lumb of Leeds-based Architecture 519 said: ‘We’ve achieved a significant increase in turnover and a part of this stems from work in London and the South East, where there has been no real downturn in the residential and regeneration sectors.

‘We’re keen to deliver the same quality of work in Leeds, Yorkshire and the North but there is simply no significant demand.’

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