In today’s news, we will look into the construction output in the UK increased in April, but the drag from house-building continued. Meanwhile, in spite of continued labour shortages, the amount of work being done on construction projects in the UK is growing. Furthermore, the team from Buro Happold has been tasked by the government to standardise MMC. Moreover, at the Sutherland Spaceport, construction work has begun.
April UK Construction Production Grows, House-building Drag Intensifies
A Friday survey indicated that Britain’s construction sector grew in April, although private house-building fell the most since May 2020 due to weaker demand and higher borrowing rates.
In April, the S&P Global/CIPS UK Purchasing Managers’ Index for construction rose to 51.1 from 50.7 in March and exceeded the Reuters experts’ prediction of 51.0.
S&P Global Market Intelligence economics director Tim Moore said new house-building project cuts continued to hurt construction output.
“While there have been some signs of a recent stabilisation in market conditions, this has yet to feed through to construction activity,” Moore added.
The latest official figures show construction output grew 5.7% in the year to February.
After a dramatic halt following former prime minister Liz Truss’ “mini-budget,” Britain’s property market has shown indications of revival.
British lenders approved the most mortgages since October 2022 in March, according to Bank of England data, and Nationwide reported a 0.5% monthly uptick in house prices in April after seven months of decline.
Barratt (BDEV.L), Persimmon (PSN.L), and Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) reported a resurgence in buyer interest in the normally strong spring selling season, but warned of larger economic difficulties.
April’s PMI report revealed a sharp drop in residential building work.
Britain’s economy and company confidence improved, boosting commercial construction to its second-strongest in six months.
New orders grew the second-fastest since July 2022, and employment rose marginally.
Construction companies reported the greatest supply chain pressure reduction since 2009. Despite rising energy bills and building product prices, input price inflation was at its lowest since November 2020.
The all-sector PMI, which includes services and manufacturing data, climbed to 54.5 from 52.1 in March, the highest since April 2022.
UK Construction Workloads Rising Despite Labour Shortages
RICS’ UK Construction Monitor Q1 2023 found that workloads increased in the first three months of the year, but financing, material, and labour challenges persisted.
In Q1, UK construction workload activity rose 3% from -1% in Q4 2022. Private business and industrial workloads rose somewhat. +2% and +3% net balances, respectively. Public housing workloads rose 7%. Private housing was -9% negative.
UK infrastructure has the highest positive burden at 23%. Energy has the strongest net balance, at 46% in Q1. This is up from 45% the previous quarter.
Labour shortages worry industry stakeholders.
The paper mentions worker shortages in anecdotes. Quantity surveyor recruiting remains a challenge. Hiring trades is challenging.
“The negative mood around development has eased somewhat in recent months with the workload trend stabilising away from infrastructure where the trend remains positive. Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said personnel and skill shortages remain a major issue for the business.
“Unless addressed, this could prove to be a significant drag on the ambitions of the construction industry,” he warned.
The research indicates strong employment expectations. 35% of respondents employed new workers in the past three months. 27% anticipated hiring more.
More industry players aim to invest in staff training and development. Despite the personnel constraint, many construction firms are losing money.
Construction is struggling financially.
64% stated financial concerns made their work harder. Five quarters of financial issues. Rising interest and inflation may perpetuate these challenges.
For the fourth quarter in a row, fewer respondents (56%) stated material shortages were a serious worry for the industry.
“Whilst the construction sector continues to recover from the recent market and economic pressures, the skills shortages within the sector are a continued cause for concern as construction demand outstrips the industry’s capacity,” said RICS senior public affairs officer Mahvesh Ibrar.
“Not only is this impacting our house building ability, but if we are to tackle the climate emergency and meet the retrofit challenge, this issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” Ibrar said.
The Buro Happold Team Standardised MMC for the Government
Original Source: Buro Happold team gets government brief to standardise MMC
Buro Happold will develop a modern methods of construction (MMC) standardisation approach for the government.
The government’s Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030 and Construction Playbook guide the MMC Standardisation Research and Kit of Parts.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) stated the open source project “represents a key step by the government to translate policy into practice”.
The Forge in London, which won the 2023 Digital Construction Awards, was designed using a “kit of parts” approach.
DLUHC collaborated with MMC specialists Akerlof, Buro Happold, HLM Architects, and Limberger Associates on the approach.
The government’s MMC defining framework’s categories 2 (main structural systems) and 5 (non-structural assemblies and sub-assemblies) will be the project’s focus.
The project will collaborate with the industry and supply chain to meet sector needs and open MMC market prospects.
Offsite Alliance co-founder and chair Gaynor Tennant said: “Standardisation at scale must be built on consensus.
“We are thrilled to support industry engagement for this project. Manufacturers, consultants, research and innovation institutes, and clients sharing ideas, difficulties, and possibilities for standardisation will guarantee solutions focused on interoperability and assist in breaking market barriers.”
Sutherland Spaceport Begins Construction
Original Source: Construction begins at Sutherland Spaceport
Scotland’s north coast Sutherland Spaceport has commenced construction.
The first UK mainland vertical launch spaceport will be Sutherland Spaceport, formerly Space Hub Sutherland.
Orbex, a Forres-based rocket and launch services company, will launch up to 12 orbital rockets per year from the spaceport to deploy satellites.
Scottish national and local government representatives and other project partners attended a ground-breaking ceremony last week.
Orbex leased community-owned property on the A’ Mhoine peninsula in northwest Sutherland from Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) for the spaceport.
Sutherland Spaceport will be the first carbon-neutral spaceport in construction and operation. Peat lifted during construction will be utilised to restore deteriorated peatland. Calor’s renewable Futuria Liquid Gas powers the Orbex Prime rocket.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has pledged £3m to build Sutherland Spaceport, completing a public investment package that includes just over £9m from HIE and the Scottish government and £2.55m from the UK Space Agency announced in 2018. Following the decommissioning of Dounreay nuclear power station, the NDA supported Sutherland Spaceport to help communities affected by nuclear plant closures.
Jacobs, a US engineer, will oversee site construction, spaceport operations support, and engineering services. Jacobs managed operations at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida for NASA. Jacobs has also managed parts of Scotland’s north coast Dounreay nuclear station.
Jacobs vice president Andy White stated, “As an investor in Orbex, Jacobs is deeply committed to supporting this key project which is of immense importance to the UK’s fast growing space sector. We’re excited to design, procure, and manage the local supply chain as the spaceport’s prime constructor and provide operational support and engineering services.
“Sutherland represents a new breed of spaceport, for a new breed of rocket,” said Orbex chief development officer and interim CEO Kristian von Bengtson. Modern, agile, sustainable spaceflight. The UK will become a contemporary space nation with the building of Sutherland Spaceport. As important, we intend to demonstrate how business can be a force for good, providing employment and opportunity while limiting environmental impact.”
Ian Annett, UK Space Agency deputy chief executive, said: “This marks a major step forward for Sutherland Spaceport and demonstrates the UK’s growing launch capability and the thriving space sector in Scotland.
“The UK Space Agency has invested £8.5m in Scottish-based launch technologies through the European Space Agency’s Boost! programme, £2.5m towards the spaceport, and £5.5m for Orbex’s Prime rocket, which has catalysed further investment from private and public partners.
“Sutherland Spaceport will unlock 250 new jobs and boost the Highlands and Islands economy, but its carbon-neutral ambition underlines the UK’s position as a world-leader in sustainable space activities.”
Summary of today’s construction news
Overall, we discussed Construction in Britain increased in April, according to a poll released on Friday, with private house-building declining the most since May 2020 due to weaker demand and higher borrowing rates.
Meanwhile, according to RICS’s UK Construction Monitor Q1 2023, demand climbed throughout the first three months of the year, despite ongoing difficulties securing adequate funding, materials, and labourers.
On the other hand, the Sutherland Spaceport is currently under construction on the north coast of Scotland. Sutherland Spaceport, originally known as Space Hub Sutherland, will be the first mainland UK vertical launch spaceport. Orbex, situated in Forres, is a rocket and launch services provider that plans to use the spaceport to launch as many as twelve orbital rockets per year in order to install satellites.
Over and above that, Buro Happold will create a strategy for the government to standardise MMC (modern techniques of construction).