Study shows Scotland leads the way on education and hospitality construction projects

Tom Hall

THE March Super Sectors report from Barbour ABI has revealed the pipeline for Scotland’s education and hospitality construction sectors is the healthiest in the UK.

The report is a monthly examination of planning application approvals and contract awards by sector and region.

In February, the education construction sector in Scotland had £127 million of contracts awarded and £106 million of planning applications approved. This continued in March with a further £99 million of planning approvals granted and put Scotland into first place.

Scotland also topped the Barbour ABI Super Sectors report for the value of planning applications approved in the hotel, leisure & sport construction sector for the second consecutive month. Projects valued at £222 million were given the green light.

Infrastructure construction in Scotland is also said to look ‘very positive’ with the move to renewable energy sources fuelling much of the demand. Scotland ranked second in the UK for both contract awards (£286m) and planning approvals (£296m).

By contrast, Scotland lags behind the UK average for industrial, commercial & retail, medical and residential construction. The medical & healthcare sector is said to look ‘particularly weak’ north of the border with no planning applications receiving approval in March.

Tom Hall, chief economist at Barbour ABI, said, “The data for March indicates the construction industry in Scotland will continue to be strong for the short-to-medium term. The UK topping value of planning approvals in the hotels, leisure & sport construction sector suggests that Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic is now beginning to take off following the final easing of restrictions, which was later than in the rest of the UK.

“The education construction sector also continued strongly in March, but it is a very different picture in the medical & healthcare construction sector. Not one single planning approval in the whole of Scotland was achieved in the sector, despite the recent rhetoric and focus on improving healthcare facilities across the country.

“Health is an issue controlled by the SNP government at Holyrood and the lack of capital investment in the sector could be driven by a differing set of policy priorities.”