New construction activity contracted by 14% during the final quarter of 2015 on a year earlier, according to figures released today (14th January) by industry analysts Glenigan.

The value of new work starting on site fell across the residential, non-residential and civil engineering sectors of the industry. Over 2015 as a whole, starts were down 4%, with both non-residential and civil engineering sectors having declined. This is the first annual decline recorded by Glenigan since 2009, and follows growth of 10% in 2014.

In fact only a handful of sectors saw rises in project starts during 2015. These were the private housing, industrial, education and utilities sectors.

Glenigan’s monthly index of project starts had already fallen into negative territory during the three months to November, but the extreme weather conditions in December have brought a starker pace of decline.

Commenting on this month’s figures, Allan Wilén, Glenigan’s Economics Director, said: “The wettest December on record has added to the industry’s woes. Moreover sites will stay waterlogged for some time, hindering starts in the new year.”

“We expect the upcoming output figures to reveal another quarterly decline in construction activity. The lack of new projects starting in 2015 will cause a New Year hangover for growth in early 2016.”

Glenigan’s data suggests a lack of confidence among the construction industry’s clients. The value of work receiving detailed planning approval* increased by 15% in 2015, but this has failed to translate into workers on site.

Mr. Wilén concluded: “There is a significant pipeline in place to fuel construction growth in 2016. However clients are currently not pressing ahead with planned schemes at the same rate we witnessed during 2014.”

The Midlands and Northern regions of England fared best during 2015. The East Midlands, East of England and North East of England were the only three parts of the UK to record growth over the year, though declines across the other Northern and Midlands regions were modest. In London, Southern England and Scotland the decline in new work has been more stark. The value of starts fell by 11% in the Capital in 2015.