The annual construction contract award figures highlighted in real-time on the BCLive league table for 2021 from research gathered & validated by Builders’ Conference, were down on the previous 12 months and fell well short of the £90 billion that had been predicted early in the year.   But the table ended on an unseasonal high to send the UK construction industry into the New Year with its tail up.  Neil Edwards CEO of the Builders’ Conference looks back over a roller coaster year and a surprisingly upbeat month.

First the bad news.   The annual BCLive league table for 2021 was down around £8.0 billion on the previous 12 months, coming in at £75.8 billion.   But the good news is that the figures for 2020 were skewed somewhat by around £12 billion of HS2-related work that was awarded at the end of the year.   Furthermore, even though December is traditionally a quiet month that is greatly curtailed by the festive holidays, December 2021 still delivered £4.4 billion in new contract awards, above the established £4.0 billion monthly benchmark.   In addition, the statistics for the final month of 2021 show an encouraging geographic spread of forthcoming workload.

Climbing to the top of the heap in December 2021 is French-owned joint venture company CNIM which won a landmark £480 million energy centre new build for client Tata Chemicals Europe.   The project involves the construction of a new Energy from Waste (EfW) facility located at Lostock Gralam near Northwich in Cheshire that will produce 69 MW of clean, renewable energy while diverting 600,000 tonnes of waste per year from landfill.

In second place on the BCLive league table was BAM, which secured three new contract awards during the month worth a combined £302 million.   The largest of these is a £250 million mixed use development at Gateshead Quays on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead.   That development will include an indoor arena and exhibition space, public realms, and hotel, leisure and residential space.   It had been previously reported that this contract had been secured by Sir Robert McAlpine.   The client is Ask Property Developments.

Claiming third position on the BCLive league table for the month of December 2021 was Wates with a combined haul of six new contract awards worth a total of £297.6 million.   The most notable of these is the new build of a research and development laboratory for client Public Health England in Harlow that is valued at £160 million.

Maintaining the dominance of the house-building sector, Hill Partnership took the fourth spot on the BCLive league table with three new housing contract awards during the month that together were worth £187.7 million.   The largest of these is a £95 million project to create 547 new dwellings as part of the Marleigh Phase 1 development in Cambridge.   In addition to the new housing, that project also includes a new primary school, a nursery, a market square and a new community centre.

Claiming fifth position and simultaneously regaining the crown for the most projects in the month was Morgan Sindall.   The company picked up a creditable 18 new contract awards during the month worth a combined £152.3 million.   The largest of these was picked up by group company Lovell Partnerships; a £43 million housing new build for client Norfolk County Council on a site at Bowlers Green in Hopton.

Despite month being shortened by more than a week due to the Christmas holidays, 11 companies picked up more than £100 million in new contract awards to further reinforce December’s positivity.

Although it failed to pass the £1.0 billion mark for the first time in a long while, London reigned supreme in the regional run-down, netting 82 new contract awards worth a combined £776 million.   The North West (£644 million) and the North (£549 million) enjoyed upbeats months, while the West Midlands (£201 million) and East Midlands (£138 million) were down on recent highs.   Scotland reported 22 new projects valued at £340 million to end the year on a high while Wales continues to languish, serving up £71 million split across just 13 new contract awards.

Of course, while 2021 is now at an end, 2022 begins with a hangover.   The construction sector still faces the triple threat of skills shortages and both materials and fuel price hikes however, £4.4 billion in a short month in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic still feels like something close to a Christmas miracle.

Quick review of BCLive table for December 2021

  • 214 no companies were detailed as winning new contracts during December 2021
  • 321 no new construction orders were researched by Builders’ Conference all detailed on the UK’s only Live league table of construction contract awards BCLive
  • CNIM secured overall top spot with a single contract worth £480 million
  • Morgan Sindall Group was the company with the most number of new construction orders in the month with 18no totaling £152.3 million

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