Construction growth has been prominent across the UK, but Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham have been industry leaders.Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, which hit residential and commercial property markets, as well as the wider economy, hard, building levels have been recovering from the historic low that the meltdown cast them into.
Last year marked one of the best years of recovery since the downturn, and according to reports from Deloitte, two Northern Powerhouse cities, along with one of our regional cities, have been at the forefront of the growth that has made this a reality, with Deloitte saying they are "delivering growth and investment at levels not witnessed for many years".
In its latest crane survey, which tracks construction activity in a range of different sectors, it was found that Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham have all been performing particularly well when held up against the rest of the UK. This can be put down largely to the large-scale improvements that have been seen across these cities in terms of business growth in the past few years, helping drive forward the need for construction in a range of key areas.
So just how well are the three cities performing? Here, we take a look at the activity driving each.
Over the past few years, Manchester has been one of the undeniable success stories of the business world. Several major media companies moved to the north-west, following the likes of the BBC and Auto Trader, bringing with them skilled staff and jobs.
On top of this, start-up levels in Manchesterhave been higher than anywhere else in the UK for the past few years. In 2014 and 2015, the number of companies opening for business in Manchester exceeded half a million. These companies created skilled positions, helping to drive recruitment and increase the influx of skilled workers to the city.
This is no doubt a main factor in Manchester becoming a UK leader in residential property construction last year. Deloitte's report shows that the city had 22 residential projects started in 2016, putting that year well ahead of the previous peak of the 14 projects witnessed pre-recession in 2007.
It's a trend that's expected to continue into 2017 as well, with demand for residential properties to rent remaining high, and companies continuing to seek out new commercial office spaces as they expand and move into exciting new places to work.
This thriving business sector and continued demand is one of the main drivers behind new developments in both residential and commercial markets in the city like Bruntwood's Neo and Circle Square projects, which will help to meet the demands of both commercial and residential sectors.
At Neo, Bruntwood is creating its most evolved workspace to date, with a focus on growth, collaboration and community. The space is designed with collaboration in mind, and makes for one of the most exciting contemporary workspaces in the city, where companies can become a network of creatives together.
In Circle Square, the notion of community is the cornerstone. With an 'intellectually noisy' vibe, Circle Square will comprise a neighbourhood of serviced apartments and modern commercial space in the busy Corridor Manchester that encourages people to live and work together in a vibrant atmosphere that helps everyone achieve community goals together.
While Manchester has been the main driver for growth in the residential sector, commercial building has come to the forefront in Leeds, helping to push construction back to pre-recession levels.
According to Deloitte figures, the city has thrived in both retail and office space construction in the past 12 months. Led by the new Victoria Gate shopping centre, Leeds saw around 600,000 sq.ft of retail projects started, allowing the city to double its average retail construction levels in 2016.
It was a strong year for office space as well, with the growth of digital marketing and tech companies helping to push forward demand for offices, meaning more new offices being built in the city than at any time post-recession.
Demand for exciting new office spaces for modern businesses has helped to push forward projects in the city, such as Bruntwood's Platform development. Located above Leeds train station, Platform is set to offer the most exciting office space in Leeds, with businesses of all shapes and size coming together to work in a modern working environment. The workspace will encourage collaboration and be tailored to modern, digital firms with its business lounge, roof garden and tech-savvy meeting and office spaces.
A similar story to Leeds is currently being seen in Birmingham, with the city breaking commercial property construction records, according to Deloitte.
The organisation said that in the last few years, Birmingham has seen growth in its financial sector, thanks to more and more companies looking for a place to head to when they move away from London. In addition to this, it has become something of a hub for engineering companies in recent years. When these combine, the demand for commercial space has swelled markedly in the past few years.
This has, of course, created a level of demand for new and exciting office spaces, and it's something that has helped Birmingham's construction sector hit new highs. Deloitte said in 2016 that there was a ten-fold rise in commercial activity. In office space alone, there was a 50 per cent increase in building activity in 2016, with 1.4 million sq.ft under construction last year - the highest level since 2002.
In total, 2016 saw 2,331 units being built across the commercial sector in Birmingham. This included the start of the new Cornerblock from Bruntwood, one of the city's most forward-thinking new spaces.
Cornerblock has its focus on bringing together work and wellbeing, and promotes health and happiness through things such as floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for maximum natural light, mechanical ventilation to improve air quality, and rooftop terrace working that encourages people to work together, as well as a gym and cycle storage that promotes health and wellbeing across the companies working there.
Take a look at our website for more information about our exciting new developments.