The recovery in property prices has started to feed through to housebuilding activity, according to new figures from the Department of the Environment.
The upturn in housebuilding ensured that the fourth quarter of 1996 was the busiest period for the construction industry since 1991, allowing for price increases and seasonal factors.
However, the pace of the upturn in construction is slow. The total volume of output rose by 1 per cent between the third and fourth quarters, and the final period in 1996 was only 1 per cent above the same three months in 1995.
The volume of repair and maintenance work was unchanged on the third quarter and on the same period in the previous year. The volume of new construction work, though, was up 3 per cent in the fourth quarter. A strong increase in private sector work was offset by a decline in the public sector.
New private housing projects led the way with an increase of 10 per cent over the third quarter and 23 per cent above the fourth quarter of 1995.
New infrastructure work, taking in roads, power stations and bridges, was 5 per cent up in the fourth quarter, 2 per cent year-on-year. New construction work in the private commercial sector was up 2 per cent and 9 per cent respectively but new work in the industrial sector fell 3 per cent on the quarter and was unchanged on the year.
In January this year the building of 17,000 homes was started in the UK, compared with 12,700 in the same month in 1996.
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