Landscape architecture firms see business pick up thanks to house-building recovery

Signs of recovery in the house-building sector are having a positive impact on landscape architecture practices as work starts to pick up.

Enquiries are increasing in the sector, according to landscape architecture firms, and that is bolstered by figures from the National House Building Council (NHBC) showing applications to build new homes were up two thirds.

The statistics showed applications in the three months to February 2010 were up 66 per cent on the same period last year.

Studio Engleback director Luke Engleback explained: "The rug got pulled from under our feet at the beginning of last year. But it has picked up and there are definitely things happening." The firm has been working with Countryside Properties, Linden Homes and smaller, niche developers.

The NHBC figures showed major increases in applications across the country, with the exception of the North West.

Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply research showed UK construction activity had risen during March for the first time since February 2008, with house building showing the strongest increase.

Macfarlane Wilder director Peter Wilder told HW that he had started recruiting for the first time in two years. "The phone started ringing eight weeks ago and hasn't stopped," he revealed. Whitelaw Turkington director Mike Martin added there was a "cautious increase in enquiries".

LDA Design director Kirk Nelson agreed: "We have been putting through proposals for some of the bigger developers, including Countryside, Crest Nicholson and Berkeley Homes."

The recovery is being partially attributed to the Government's £900m Kickstart housing delivery programme. Home Builders Federation director of external affairs John Slaughter told HW that there were "cautiously optimistic signs". He added: "We are not shouting from the rooftops but there are some positive signs."

Farrer Huxley Associates director Jon Sheaff said the firm had not traditionally been involved with commercial house building but was now expanding into the sector. "Potentially, there is growth out there," he added. "It hasn't fed into sales yet but we anticipate that it will."

However, in the Labour Party manifesto it says it will cut regeneration funding. British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace said: "It is one thing pledging 50,000 new affordable homes when elsewhere the manifesto says it will make savings in regeneration funding."


Region Dec 08 to Dec 09 to
Feb 09 Feb 10

East of England 2,301 3,017
East Midlands 1,116 2,037
Greater London 1,398 2,787
Isle of Man 2 19
North East 402 908
North West 1,393 1,369
Northern Ireland 534 678
Scotland 982 1,814
South East 2,271 4,635
South West 1,729 2,589
Wales 490 927
West Midlands 992 1,860
Yorkshire and the Humber 927 1,465
Totals 14,537 24,105

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