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Development certainty and pro-growth policies top construction sector’s demands to Government

Development certainty and pro-growth policies top construction sector’s demands to Government

PRO-DEVELOPMENT policy must take precedence if the construction industry is to achieve its full investment potential into the future, according to the results of a new survey of construction professionals conducted by multi-disciplinary consultancy Pick Everard and planning and development consultancy Lichfields.

With just one week to go until the UK goes to the polls, respondents have identified policy changes the next government can enact immediately to kickstart growth ambitions and counter key barriers to growth. Indeed, 83% of respondents identified policy or economic uncertainty as major investment stumbling blocks.

Among the key aims across the sector was the need for a pro-development policy platform to increase investment activity. 55% of respondents stated the need for achieving comprehensive local plan coverage as a priority, while separate Lichfields research found just 22% of plans are currently projected to be fit for purpose by the end of 2025.

Also emphasised is the need for a long-term industrial strategy, with 40% advocating for clear investment paths, while public investment decisions on housing (38%), clean energy investments (39%), and national grid capacity improvements (38%) also topped contractor, developer, and consultant wish lists.

Gavin Mason, operations director at Pick Everard

Gavin Mason, operations director at Pick Everard, said: “Our survey has been carried out against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty, and in a market which is challenged by inflated construction costs, decreased public-led investment, increasing complexity in securing planning permission, continued shortages of skilled labour and a sector that is recording 4,000+ insolvencies a year – the highest of any sector in the UK.

“All of these issues will need to be addressed by the next government, which is going to have a key role to play in improving sector output.

“It is also clear from the results of the survey that the industry is calling for constructive reform of existing legislation to deliver the construction investments the country desperately needs.”

Ciaran Gunne‑Jones, ​senior director, head of economics at Lichfields, said: “We need to see more local plans adopted, unlocking more homes and economic opportunities. The next government has the opportunity to work with the development industry to turbo-charge the UK economy, and to do it quickly.”

Further results within the survey reveal that 96% of respondents expect tender prices to rise in the next year, with 76% predicting increases between 1% and 6%. Contributing factors include the impact of government legislation (26%), construction industry capacity (20%), and geopolitical volatility (19%).

Taking stock of current industry issues, 24% of respondents asked for a review of current legislation on Biodiversity Net Gain, which only came into force earlier this year, alongside Gateway 2 of the Building Safety Act and Part L building regulations (2022), each of which have been widely debated among construction circles over the past year.

Finally, reducing interest rates (36%) and increasing investment in training grants (24%) were also seen as vital for industry growth, with the latter being especially important to help plug the widening skills gap in construction.

For more information on Pick Everard and the services it provides, visit https://www.pickeverard.co.uk/

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BDC 318 : Jul 2024