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One of the most encouraging new year predictions came in an annual survey of economists by The Times showing that over half of the 79 respondents expect an increase in business investment following the election.

It chimed with the recent Glenigan Construction Forecast for 2020-2021 which highlights logistics/warehousing and civil engineering as two of the most promising sectors for the construction industry this year.

Development pipeline

Certainly, the development pipeline suggests major warehouse and logistics-related schemes will provide a good source of work for contractors in the English regions in 2020.

In south Yorkshire for example, plans for the new £200 million Mulberry Logistics Park Doncaster have recently been recommended for approval. Work on the scheme, which is at the pre-tender stage and will involve five units and over 227, 600 sq m of new space, is set to start this autumn (Glenigan Project ID: 15236814). 

Meanwhile, bills have recently been called on Phase 4 of Peel Logistics’ £69 million Gateway 45 scheme in Leeds involving four warehouse units. Work on the project is set to start this summer and continue for 11 months (Glenigan Project ID: 17014889).

Elsewhere in Rochester in Kent, ISG Construction has recently been appointed as the main contractor on Goodman Logistics Development’s £37 million Medway Commercial Park where work is due to start in the spring and continue for 12 months (Glenigan Project ID: 18163549).

Spending to transform infrastructure

Details of how the government plans to invest the £100 billion set aside in the Queen’s Speech to ‘transform’ the UK’s infrastructure should emerge with its new National Infrastructure Strategy in the spring. It will highlight the government’s aims for extra spending on transport, local growth, decarbonisation and the digital infrastructure.

The extra spending should reinforce the 5% upturn in civil engineering starts which Glenigan is forecasting for 2020; and which follows a 22% increase in 2019.

The government’s focus on spreading growth more evenly across the regions suggests new civil projects in the North – particularly on roads - will be a priority. On this front, some major motorway projects are set to get underway this year including a £312 million Highways England scheme to improve the M40/M42 Interchange, north of Birmingham. Tenders have been returned and work is set to start in the autumn and continue for 33 months (Glenigan Project ID: 17455560).

Meanwhile, work on Highways England’s £1 billion Northern TransPennine upgrade of the A66 in Cumbria is also set to start in the autumn and should continue for 24 months (Glenigan Project ID: 17343745).

Network Rail also has a busy investment programme which should provide some good opportunities for contractors in the north.

Government investment has been confirmed for the huge £780 million power line upgrade for the East Coast Mainline, to be based in Newcastle. It will involve improvements to platforms, tracks, signals and junctions on the electrified route from London to Edinburgh and run over 24 months with work set to start in late spring (Glenigan Project ID: 18260649).

Funding has also been made available and advanced work is set to get underway in the spring for a £20 million redevelopment of Solihull railway station to accommodate growing passenger numbers (Glenigan Project ID: 18291545).