Birmingham and Manchester lead the way as construction booms in the region

The biggest UK regional cities are reporting record levels of construction activity, boosted by new transport links and the rise in popularity of city centre living.

Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Belfast have all seen a significant increase in development across a number of sectors, according to the latest Deloitte crane survey.

Birmingham has seen a 10-fold increase in residential schemes starting construction in 2016, totaling 2,331 units in the city centre, as well as an increase of 50% of office space – from 969,000 sq ft to 1.4m sq ft - the highest level of activity since the report began in 2002.

Deloitte found that as the new High Speed rail line moves closer to completion, Birmingham is becoming a hub for the engineering sector. Financial services companies are also going from strength to strength, it said, and the growth of private rented sector homes is buoying the city centre’s residential property stock.

In Manchester, 22 residential projects started construction in 2016, eight more than the previous high of 14 in 2007. There’s continuing demand for rental properties in the city, and ongoing requirements for office space.

Leeds also saw the highest level of office space delivered to the market since 2007, as well as twice the average annual total of retail space with nearly 600,000 sq ft of new shopping projects started in 2016.

Belfast was included in the regional surveys for the first time, and found that 19 projects, including offices, hotels and student halls, were under construction, and 11 were completed in 2016.

Despite this, residential activity in the city was more subdued, with just 84 residential units completed in the city centre in 2016, and none scheduled to come to the market this year.

The surveys showed that there was growth and resurgence in the UK’s regions despite concern that economic prosperity was limited to London. All sectors are active and we conclude that our regional cities are delivering growth and investment at levels not witnessed for many years.

Simon Bedford, local government development partner at Deloitte Real Estate

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