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Weaker pound could help Northern Ireland architects win work in republic

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Architects in Northern Ireland say they could benefit from more work in the Republic of Ireland following a post-Brexit drop in the value of the pound

Sterling has lost around 7.7 per cent of its value against the Euro in the wake of the vote, and now stands at around €1.2, its lowest level since early 2014.

Paul Millar, partner at Belfast-based Hamilton Architects, said that the lower exchange rate could help practices win more jobs south of the border.

He said: ‘If it continues, it could help us become more competitive in terms of our fees.

Steven Moon of McGarry-Moon, based in Coleraine, said: ‘About 80 per cent of our work is export to the EU countries – mainly in the south where [we are working on] one-off houses for private clients. These clients don’t have to pay VAT because we’re an export.’

However, Millar warned that any benefits could be lost if border controls are introduced between Northern Ireland and the republic.

‘We have an office Derry and a number of our staff live in Donegal, on the other side of the border,’ he said. ‘It would be unthinkable for us to go back to border controls and passport checking.’

Alastair Hall, of Belfast practice Hall McKnight, said he was concerned that economic uncertainty surrounding the impact of the vote could harm Northern Ireland’s recovery.

He said: ‘Our principal concern is that Northern Ireland is a region which has lagged behind economically and we’re concerned by how much recovery may have been affected by this result.’

Northern Irish architect Alan Jones, currently fighting in the RIBA presidential election, said that clients, investors and project teams were likely to become more cautious in the short term.

But he added: ‘We have to avoid the “Robert Peston” effect, of talking up concern and negative impact.

‘Quiet, informed consideration is what is needed. Architectural practice is not like open-heart surgery – immediate decisions rarely have to be taken.

‘Clients in southern Ireland will be well served by UK-based practices, and should be keen to perpetuate such successful relationships.’


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