Leeds leads levelling up construction rebound

Aaron Morby 3 months ago

England’s main regional cities are set for further strong growth after a strong bounce back in building projects last year driven mainly by big residential schemes.

Leeds skyline. Pic courtesy: ARC Aerial Imaging
Leeds skyline. Pic courtesy: ARC Aerial Imaging

Construction activity across Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester rose markedly with 65 new projects beginning construction last year, up from 47 in 2020, according to Deloitte’s Regional Crane Survey.

Leeds led the way with both record growth in residential, student and office schemes.

The construction of new residential development was strong in Manchester and Birmingham last year, while hitting record levels in Leeds. Across the three cities, the construction of 19,763 new homes was underway in 2021 – the second highest on record.

Project threshold: office: +25,000 sq ft; hotel: +35 beds; retail/leisure: 10,000 sq ft; residential: 25 units; education: +10,000 sq ft

Similar to residential growth trends in Manchester since 2014, Birmingham and Leeds have now also gained significant traction in new build to rent projects over successive survey years.

Once booming Manchester is showing a decline from high construction levels across all sectors. But over 2.8m sq ft of office floor space is planned to commence construction over the next few years offering a bright outlook for the commercial sector.

The Survey monitors construction activity across a range of sectors including offices, residential, hotels, retail, education and student housing – providing a barometer of developer sentiment and future supply.

Daniel Barlow, managing partner for regional markets at Deloitte, said: “It’s encouraging to see overall construction activity remaining resilient across regional cities, despite a number of challenges.

“Regional cities are gearing up for a good pipeline of development for 2022. There is expected to be an uplift in construction across all sectors, as the levelling up agenda progresses, with further investment in centres.”

Vital city statistics


  • Development in the city was a mixed picture dependent on sector, with residential development remaining strong and over 750,000 ft of new office space delivered to market in 2021.
  • 18 new projects broke ground in 2021, up from 10 in 2020
  • There were 14 new resi starts during 2021, up from five the year before.
  • The amount of office space under construction (616,661 sq ft) has halved compared to the 1.25m sq ft recorded at year end 2020. However, delivery was the second highest on record with 751,664 sq ft brought to market during 2021, much of which was pre-let.
  • After a record 1,458 beds completing in 2020, the amount of purpose-built student accommodation is subdued, with 337 bedspaces under construction and 399 brought to market during 2021.


  • Over all sectors, Leeds saw 22 total new starts in 2021 – the second highest number of new starts in the history of the survey.
  • 2021 saw a record 10 new residential developments starting construction, which will deliver 2,267 new homes. This represents an increase of 210% when compared with the 732 new residential units that started construction in 2020.
  • Despite only 82,389 sq ft of new office space being delivered in 2021, Leeds saw five new starts in the sector. This contributed to over 860,000 sq ft of space under construction in 2021, across seven sites – well above the survey’s four-year average of 704,100 sq ft.
  • The survey reports a surge in the construction of student accommodation, with six new starts and 2,226 bedspaces currently under construction.
  • The retail, leisure and hotel sectors were subdued in 2021. There were no retail or leisure new starts, and one hotel new start.


  • While the overall number of new starts in 2021 (25) remains consistent with 2020, there was an overall reduction of volume of new homes, offices and hotels under construction in Manchester and Salford.
  • 5,549 new homes were delivered in 2021, after 4,914 new homes were delivered in 2020, following consecutive record-breaking years. 10,717 residential properties remain under construction in the survey area across 40 development sites.
  • Commercial office supply was constrained compared to typical years (537,475 sq ft per annum between 2014-2021), with four commercial office schemes completing in 2021 and delivering just 404,584 sq ft to market. 43% of 1.34 million sq ft under construction is currently pre-let, providing further short-term constraints on supply for potential occupiers.
  • 938,876 sq ft of new education and research floorspace was completed in 2021, which is the largest amount delivered on record and supported by the opening of the Manchester Engineering Campus. A further 506,018 sq ft remains under construction in this sector.

Latest news

Race starts for £500m Scottish zero carbon hospital job

Bidding starts for new University Hospital Monklands near Airdrie
10 mins ago

Manchester airport taxis out £60m terminal 2 pier job

Bidding to start before the end of 2022 for project start early next summer
9 mins ago

Plan for 1,100-home complex at Leicester factory site

Galliford Try investments plots Corah Factory transformation
1 hour ago

Axed House by Urban Splash staff plan legal action

Ex-workers consult with lawyers following administration
42 mins ago

Summer slowdown fears as latest contract award data droops

Latest Barbour ABI Snap Analysis paints uncertain picture
8 mins ago

Farrans wins £39m Somerset recycling hub

Site preparation gets underway for Keynsham Recycling Hub
1 hour ago

Balfour gets green light for £250m M25 junction 10

Autumn start for M25 junction 10/A3 Wisley interchange improvement scheme
3 days ago

Leeds plumbing contractor sinks with loss of 30 jobs

Dickinsons Plumbing and Heating goes down but renewables arm salvaged in sale
3 days ago

HS2 achieves first diesel-free construction site

Skanska Costain STRABAG JV runs Kilburn site with green kit
3 days ago

Administration confirmed at House by Urban Splash

160 jobs lost following "operational issues" at modular factory
4 days ago

Network Rail fined £1.4m after worker crushed by track machines

Judge highlights "many layers of failure" within site management
4 days ago

Kier picked for £350m Leatherhead regen plan

Property arm to draw up plans to redevelop two large town centre sites
4 days ago

Two seriously injured in London steelwork collapse

Two steel erectors left fighting for their lives after collapse at Ardmore site
4 days ago

Urban Splash modular staff start looking for new jobs

Work stops at House by Urban Splash factory and housing sites
4 days ago

Building facade specialist CMS goes into administration

Building envelope firm had turnover of £43m
5 days ago

Office work uplift returns construction output to growth

New commercial work drives output uplift for the first time since the pandemic
4 days ago

More suppliers wanted on £683m waste power plant

Meet the buyer event for North London Heat and Power Project: Register now
5 days ago

Vistry Partnerships lands £128m London flats deal

Legal & General signs up firm for 480-flats over five buildings in Wandsworth
5 days ago

HS2 Project Bank Accounts “not worth paper they are written on”

Subcontractors furious after payment protection promises evaporate in wake of Roadbridge collapse
5 days ago

Taylor Wimpey to tear down half-built £48m Hackney Wick scheme

Concrete frame to be demolished after discovery of "potential structural issue"
5 days ago

Data centre work lifts TClarke orders to record high

Orders hit £585m, more than £100m on last year
5 days ago

BAM lands largest ever fit-out job

Firm to fit-out landmark 12-storey Edinburgh St James Quarter 'ribbon' hotel
6 days ago

Winners revealed for £1.1bn demolition framework

Pagabo confirms 29 firms on new deal: Full list
6 days ago

Spie boss joins United Living as new MD of infrastructure

United Living rebrands Fastflow Energy and Pipelines businesses
6 days ago

Vinci/McAlpine JV wins £90m rehab hospital

Main contract award for National Rehabilitation Centre
6 days ago

Phoenix ME forecast revenue to rebound by 20%

London M&E specialists expects to return to around £200m revenue this year after set back last year
5 days ago

Roadbridge UK went down owing £60m

Supply chain owed £22.5m with little chance of any return
6 days ago

Bid race for tunnels on £150m Tube station upgrade

Bidders day on 27 May for Elephant and Castle capacity upgrade tunnels
7 days ago

ISG joins structural steel re-use project

Project aims to cost out business model for whole value chain from client to demolition contractor
6 days ago

Major hotel plan for Birmingham Central Methodist Hall

Three-storey rooftop extension will form part of historic hall restoration
6 days ago

Contractor services