The value of UK housing projects starting on site has dropped for the first time in 18 months, according to the latest figures from construction analysts Glenigan.

The Glenigan Index for October, which covers projects breaking ground during the three months to September, rose by two per cent compared to a year earlier. However the underlying value of residential starts fell by six per cent.

Private housing project starts increased by just one per cent in the third quarter of the year, compared to the same period in 2013. This, combined with a 17 per cent fall in social housing starts, dragged the Glenigan Residential Index into minus figures for the first time since April 2013.

Allan Wilén, economics director at Glenigan, said: “Despite signs that the breakneck growth in house prices and purchasing activity is easing, market conditions remain positive for house builders.”

Non-residential activity remains more positive, with the retail sector seeing a 54 per cent rise in starts driven by developments such as the £80 million Banbury Gateway retail park in Oxfordshire.

Sentiment across the private sector as a whole also appears to be holding strong, as evidenced by rising starts across the office (12 per cent), hotel and leisure (10 per cent) and industrial (eight per cent) sectors.