Housing helps gives Northern Ireland building sector a boost
Construction activity in Northern Ireland surged by 7.6% in the first quarter of 2019 compared to a year earlier, according to a new report.
The construction bulletin from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) also said the volume of output rose by 2.3% during January to March, compared to the final quarter of 2018.
Nisra said the performance marked an extended upward trend since the last quarter of 2013, though there had been some fluctuations.
The rise in output quarter-on-quarter was driven by new work, which made up the bulk of construction output. However, there was a strong increase of 7.7% in housing output, while other work climbed by 0.9% and infrastructure rose by 0.7%.
Robert Gibson, director for audit and assurance at business advisory firm Grant Thornton, said: "The fact that output in the construction sector increased in the first quarter of the year, both in relation to the previous three months and compared to the same period in 2018, is positive and thanks largely to a buoyant housing sector.
"Housing output, which is still considerably lower than historic levels, is anticipated to continue growing for some time with ground due to be broken on a number of key sites across Northern Ireland over the coming months."
But Mr Gibson added there were still longer-term concerns, mainly driven by the absence of an Executive.
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"Growth in other sectors is subdued, however, and while activity has been high over recent years, particularly in the building of new hotels and office accommodation, there are concerns that the future pipeline is not as strong," he added.
"Those in the industry believe that makes the restoration of the Stormont Executive an absolute imperative to allow planning decisions on several major projects currently in limbo to be made."