Market conditions show upturn for landscapers

London and South East lead improvements in landscape market but elsewhere remains tough.

Garden Bridge
Garden Bridge

Landscapers are cautiously optimistic about 2014 as market conditions continue to improve boosted by a "berserk" London market and "booming" South East.

Paul Cowell of PC Landscapes said: "It's been a good year. It's picked up and we've had some good projects. Enquiries slowed down in August and September but now we're inundated again.

"It feels a lot more positive. The news that's reported in papers and on the TV about the economy lifting, that gives clients a lot more confidence to go forward."

But he added: "I've got some friends that do building work and landscaping work up in the north - it's not the same there."

Landform Consultants managing director Mark Gregory said it is still a difficult market. "London is going berserk, outside it's not. It's a lot better than it's been for several years but it's still tough." He said the Garden Bridge is a good example of a high-profile project focused on landscape.

John Wyer of Bowles & Wyer said he is seeing super-rich foreign buyers moving out of London into the Home Counties. "The top end of the market is really ripping and the country-house market is really booming," he said, adding that wealthy foreign buyers have realised they can buy much more for their money in counties such as Surrey.

But the types of gardens that they are looking for has changed. "We have a lot of international clients who are genuinely interested in biodiversity and nature in a way that previous generations of wealthy clients haven't been."

Norris & Gardiner managing director Richard Gardiner said landscapers are feeling more confidence but it is fragile. "Everyone I speak to is reasonably positive," he added. "But most of us have been around for a long time and we're all a bit wary about being too confident.

Survey results - Signs of market recovery

The latest survey published by the Construction Products Association this month showed activity in construction rose for the second consecutive quarter in Q3 of 2103.

This growth was reported by firms across the industry - building contractors, specialist contractors, civil engineers and product manufacturers.

Economics director Noble Francis said: "A balance of 43 per cent of contractors reported rises in activity, the second highest level since pre-recession 2007. Although private housing is driving industry growth, all construction sectors enjoyed increases in output. The industry clearly expects that the recovery in will continue."

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