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Northern Ireland construction

Northern Ireland construction recovery is expected to be driven by a rise in education and private housing this year.

Overall starts in the province only edged up 3% last year, but Glenigan is expecting a major surge in 2020.

Education work is expected to boom with £212 million-worth of projects given detailed planning approval in 2019. This work will be procured via the School Enhancement Programme, which was one of the first beneficiaries of the province’s reformed political executive with £45 million allocated to 18 schools projects in January.

Education minister Peter Weir said: “This is a significant investment which will deliver much needed capital investment in the schools estate.”

Glenigan’s research has identified a swathe of Northern Irish construction school projects set to go ahead in the coming months. These include the £14 million St Joseph's High School in Newry (Glenigan Project ID: 17060917) and the £15 million Dunclug College in Ballymena (Glenigan Project ID: 16243374).

Housing strong

Housing work has supported the Northern Ireland construction industry in recent years, and though starts slipped back by 4% to 4,769 units last year according to the National House-Building Council, underlying prospects are strong going forward.

Padraig Venney, NHBC Regional Director for Northern Ireland & IOM, said: “The housing sector in NI proved to be resilient during 2019, despite the political uncertainties caused by Brexit. After three years without a Local Assembly we now have a local Government sitting in Stormont, which is welcome news for all the people of Northern Ireland.

“Housing has already been mentioned as a key issue for all local parties, with a renewed focus on delivering more genuinely affordable homes. Demand for new, high-quality housing remains strong, with Belfast and surrounding areas more popular than ever.”

Glenigan’s data shows that £363 million-worth of private housing work secured planning permission last year, which is a rise of 8% rise on the previous year.

In 2019, the underlying value of private residential project starts also rose 11% to £186 million. Given the gap between approvals and starts, this suggests a further rise and Glenigan’s construction activity research identified a number of major projects due to start this summer.

In Belfast, Fraser Homes is planning to build 224 houses at Knockbracken Road (Glenigan Project ID: 15225637) and Rosemount Homes’ Black Quarter Meadow comprises 102 houses and 10 flats. Both schemes should start later this year.

Lotus Homes has also applied for planning permission to build 90 houses in the Ballymena Road Development in Belfast, where work could start in September if plans are approved (Glenigan Project ID: 19409420).

Private sector boost

Other private sectors are also growing. Glenigan’s economics director Allan Wilén says: “Private industrial and residential work and office projects are showing signs of improvement and the settlement with the province in the Autumn 2018 budget should provide some positive impact on the province’s construction sector.”

Glenigan’s construction data shows that £207 million-worth of office projects were approved last year and starts anticipated this year include the £30 million Mercantile office development (Glenigan Project ID: 17055373), which should start later this spring.

In addition, £118 million-worth of industrial schemes were approved last year. Many of these schemes are smaller, such as Mackle Snacks £1.1 million factory extension (Glenigan Project ID: 17327475) with a start also expected later this year as Northern Ireland’s construction industry continues to bounce back.

Further reading: Positive signs emerge for construction in Northern Ireland