CONSTRUCTION workloads in the North East fell during the last quarter of 2010 according to the latest RICS – Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – Construction Market Survey and there is little reason to think that this might change in the first quarter of 2011.
Widely attributed to the impact of Government spending cuts, the public housing and public non-housing sectors were the hardest hit in the region, with a marked decline in large-scale new capital building projects.
Despite these challenges, the region has once again seen a record number of entries to the annual RICS North East Renaissance Awards, which showcase the most inspirational initiatives in the property and construction sectors.
Set to take place next month, the awards – widely regarded as the region’s property ‘Oscars’ – saw 80 entries from all over the North East.
Michael Henning, RICS North East spokesperson on the construction sector and associate director at Summers-Inman in Newcastle, says this indicates how the region is weathering the economic storm.
He said: “It can be difficult to remain positive at a time when construction work in the region is low and fiercely competed for. However, the exemplar projects coming forward for the RICS Renaissance Awards truly demonstrate that we possess the quality and skills needed when the market returns.
“We must also remember that the regional economy is much more resilient than it has been in previous recessions and when market conditions improve, we will be able to quickly respond to the inevitable increase in demand for construction services.”
Following the government’s recent announcement that enterprise zones may return to the region, Mr Henning welcomed the opportunities they could present for the private sector to fill the void left by public sector cuts. He added: “Any measures that will stimulate investment are to be encouraged, including the implementation of enterprise zones and the potential use of accelerated development zones and tax incremental finance.
“Gap financing of new construction projects through the European Regional Development Fund and the Regional Growth Fund will also help to deliver much-needed opportunities for the industry.”
Mr Henning added: “Some sectors are fairing better than others, with new-build private housing sales showing signs of a revival. There are also some notable large-scale development projects planned for the region as we look to the future, including Science City in Newcastle, Northshore in Stockton-on-Tees and the Hitachi train assembly plant at Newton Aycliffe.
“We should recognise the outstanding quality that our industry continues to deliver in the most challenging of times and I look forward to celebrating our achievements at the RICS Renaissance Awards.”
There are eight categories – Community Benefit, Commercial, Building Conservation, Regeneration, Sustainability, Residential, Design & Innovation and Tourism & Leisure – with the title Project of the Year presented to the top performing project.
Judging of the shortlisted awards is now under way and the winners of the 2011 Renaissance Awards will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony at Newcastle’s Civic Centre on Friday, April 15.
Bookings are now being taken for places at the awards dinner. Please contact RICS North East Events Coordinator Sue Doberman on 0191 221 0359, email firstname.lastname@example.org or to book online visit www.rics.org/northeast