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3 Glass Wharf, Bristol. Image Source: Darling Associates

As well as holidaymakers, developers have been showing more interest in the South West of England in recent months. Glenigan Construction data shows a marked upturn in planning approvals in the region in the first half, suggesting sunnier times could lie ahead for South West construction.

Helped by some dramatic rises in approvals for offices, infrastructure, community & amenity and education construction projects, the value of underlying detailed planning approvals in the South West rose by 7% in the first seven months to July of 2018, compared to the period last year.

Bristol’s growing status

The construction pipeline for new offices in the region stands to benefit from planning approvals worth £170 million in the first seven months, a 59% rise on the period last year. Much of the new construction activity is linked to Bristol’s growing status as a regional commercial centre, reinforced by its cluster of science-based businesses and an expanding airport.

Major new commercial schemes in Bristol include the new £30 million 3 Glass Wharf office scheme being built by Wates Construction for Salmon Harvester Properties, which will provide 15,000 sq ft of grade A office space and which will house one of HMRC’s new regional centres.

Tender opportunities in Bristol include a £40 million scheme of office and commercial units at the city’s Temple Way being developed by Axa Investment Managers. Galliford Try South is the preferred bidder on the scheme and work is set to start this October (Glenigan Project ID 07380002).

Plans have also been submitted in the city for the £300 million Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, which includes student accommodation for the University of Bristol and commercial units being developed by Equitix. Work on the scheme is set to start early next year (Glenigan Project ID 04563833).

Meanwhile, the industrial property market is also buoyant around Bristol. A recent speculative development at Apollo Park, Yate in north Bristol, is now almost fully occupied following three recent deals, according to agent Colliers International.

Longer term, tender opportunities in the region’s infrastructure sector will be bolstered by Network Rail’s huge £4 billion Western & Wales CP6 rail buildings/civil framework, which is due get underway early in 2020 (Glenigan Project ID 18295984). Glenigan Construction data shows planning approvals for infrastructure work in the South West rose more than three-fold in the first seven months, compared to last year.

Nuclear work steps up

Work is stepping up Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset. Balfour Beatty has a growing presence at Hinkley, where it is constructing two underwater tunnels to supply water to the facility. It also has a larger site at Avonmouth which is home to nearly 200 direct employees and sub-contractors. Later this year, Bouygues UK is set to start work as main contractor on ancillary buildings at Hinkley for EDF Energy worth £35 million (Glenigan Project ID 15069518).

Across other sectors, the construction pipeline in the South West should also benefit from an upturn in planning approvals for private housing (up 25% in the first seven months of 2018, compared to the period last year), education (up 37%) and communities & amenities related work (up 79%).

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