Contractor for transport hub named but infrastructure decline continues

The third quarter of 2019 saw a further drop in construction despite easing of declines in many subsectors, according to the latest RICS and Tughans Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 4:05 pm
Jim Sammon, RICS Northern Ireland construction spokesman.

Meanwhile, private sector house building continues to be the only subsector in Northern Ireland where activity is increasing although this is at a slower rate than in Q2.

The net balances for infrastructure and other public works activity are now at their lowest rate since Q1 2012.

Jim Sammon, RICS Northern Ireland Construction spokesman, said: “Activity continues to be relatively strong regarding private building. However, the ongoing political instability and uncertainty is clearly having an effect elsewhere, particularly regarding infrastructure workloads.

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“That said, surveyors are still reporting a shortage of skilled professionals in the industry, which reinforces the need to continue to invest in industry skills such as quantity surveying, as well as the job opportunities that exist for a career in construction.”

Senior Partner, Michael McCord, Tughans said: “Private house building aside, this year is shaping up to be something of a year to forget for the construction industry in Northern Ireland. Firms in the sector will no doubt be hoping that 2020 marks a turnaround when greater certainty can be achieved in the wider economy, and that the Northern Ireland government can be restored to facilitate key decisions that will support investment. In the meantime, many firms continue to very dependent on work outside of Northern Ireland, which is testament to their skill and their ability to compete across the UK and beyond.”

The current uncertain political landscape in Northern Ireland as having a negative effect on the sector.

The lack of an NI Executive and Assembly was cited as the cause of restrictions on local public projects and infrastructure activity in particular.

This is coupled with concerns from respondents around the potential implications of Brexit relating to trade and investment.

As a result, the year ahead forecast for workloads has dropped into negative figures for the first time since 2013 and expectations for employment are flat.

Fourteen per cent more respondents perceived a fall in workload in this quarter than those reporting rises.

Public non-housing activity remains in decline with public housing also suffering as a net balance of -29% reported a decline.

Infrastructure activity reportedly dropped to its lowest since Q1 2012.

Private industrial activity also remains in decline.

However, private housing workloads continue to rise although at a slower rate.

Overall, Northern Ireland workload projections are lagging behind their UK counterparts and have fallen into negative figures.

Meanwhile, Graham was announced as the contractor to deliver essential early engineering works to prepare the site for construction of the new Belfast Transport Hub which will create 100 jobs before building work commences in 2021.

This multi-million pound regeneration scheme, a Northern Ireland Executive Flagship Project, will see the transformation of an eight hectare city centre site of the new “Weaver’s Cross” district.