Norfolk emerges as top construction ‘hotspot’ as investment in housebuilding and infrastructure shifts away from London

An ageing population and Brexit are fuelling fears that the construction industry faces challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled workers. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in its quarterly UK Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey says the figures are stark. The Farmer Review/Construction Leadership Council calculates that the industry needs 700,000 new workers and a further 120,000 to deliver capacity growth in the sector. Leaving the European Union will also heighten tensions as, currently, 45% of the UK's 270,653 migrant construction workers are from EU Countries. 


Contract awards on major regeneration and infrastructure projects have seen ‘hotspot’ pockets of construction emerge across Great Britain as investment in housebuilding, infrastructure and commercial shifts away from London and the South East. Norwich &East Norfolk led all districts across UK in 2016 for construction contract values awarded with £2.7billion helped greatly by the year’s largest contract award, the £1.8 billion East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm. Only two London regions made it into the top ten – Tower Hamlets and Camden and City of London, fourth and eighth respectively. The report compared regional construction contract values in 2016 against the average of the last four years, resulting in ‘hotspots’ and ‘cold spots’ for last year’s commissioned projects in the residential, commercial and infrastructure sectors. 


Commenting on the figures, Michael Dall, Lead Economist at Barbour ABI, said: “The Government is focused on raising the levels of major infrastructure projects, in particular public sector schemes such as offshore wind farms, energy plants and motorway upgrades have considerably boosted construction value in more rural regions. Districts such as the Isle of Anglesey and Norwich and East Norfolk have experienced year-on-year construction contract value growth of 916 per cent and 744 per cent respectively.”

Apart from large scale industrial projects, the Norwich property market is consistently improving, too, with the greatest number of first time buyers recorded since 2007 and an increased demand for property in Norwich from individuals planning to move to Norwich from out of area. Overall, 36,400 new homes were started between the months of April and June this year (2017), which was a 6% increase on the previous year, showing the effort to create extra housing is paying off.

While we recognise more needs to be done, Devise Construction remains robust in its plans for growth in line with the projected stimulation of the housebuilding sector, with renewed government effort and well placed in the East of England to satisfy current and future demands from property developers looking to expand or start up in the region. Contact Ben James at Devise Construction for an informal and confidential discussion about property investment and construction in Norfolk.