After a year of unpredictability for the economy, the overall contract value figures for the construction sector reached £70 billion, decreasing by 5 per cent compared to 2015. Housebuilding has grown by 11% but Commercial & Retail activity fell by nearly one third.

According to the latest edition of the Economic & Construction Market Review from industry analysts Barbour ABI, housebuilding continued to grow across the majority of the year, with total value of contracts at £23.6 billion, a year-on-year increase of 11 per cent. Housebuilding planning activity also increased in 2016 with the total value of projects reaching an advanced planning stage of £49.8 billion, an increase of 19.2% from the value in 2015.

Another sector that saw an increase in yearly contract value was Infrastructure with a 1.9 per cent increase, reaching £19.3 billion. Infrastructure also had nine of the top ten highest value construction contracts in 2016.

Four construction sectors saw a decrease in contract value across 2016; Industrial, Medical & Health, Education and Commercial & Retail, which saw the biggest drop over the year, decreasing by 32.6% compared to 2015 figures.

Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said: “It is clear from our yearly figures that the Housebuilding sector was the main component of growth across 2016. Even after the initial shock of the Brexit vote, where many housebuilders share prices fell in excess of 20 per cent, this did not hamper activity with both the current and future pipelines of work remaining strong.”

“However Infrastructure cannot be overlooked, with nine out of ten of the biggest projects across all of construction coming from this sector. Overall for Construction in 2016, output remained healthy but contract award values did decline.”

“With important political decisions likely to come in 2017 that could have implications on construction activity, particularly in the commercial sector, it would seem that the future will be difficult to predict, as Britain’s trading position remains unclear for now.”