While the landscaping market continues to be very tough for landscape contractors, designers and their suppliers, there is one bright spot on the horizon that promises to keep a fair number of firms busy until better times return - education.
In 2004, the Government announced its £45bn Building Schools for the Future programme, which aims to rebuild or refurbish every secondary school in England by 2020. This has been joined this month by the national roll-out of a 15-year £7bn programme for primary schools. Funding up to 2011 has been confirmed, with 41 local authorities now able to procure work for their projects.
Meanwhile, the Government has a target of 400 academies to be created through private-sector partnerships - and while progress hasn't always been smooth, as recent newspaper headlines suggest, 18 academies have now had outline business plans approved and are ready for procurement to begin.
This very considerable package of funding is making education an increasingly important sector for many landscape firms, as it helps to take up some of the fall-off in other sectors hit by the economic downturn.
We also report this week on a study of the UK's top 100 regeneration projects carried out by HW's sister magazine Regeneration & Renewal, which shows that while the recession may have knocked a number of urban renewal projects off course, there are still plenty of projects progressing that will keep firms busy. In the past year alone, £94bn was committed to the top 100 projects - £6bn up on the previous year.
Two reasons, amid the gloom, to remain cheerful.