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Last updateThu, 16 Jun 2022 8am

Dancing to the rhythm of the piledriver; and mind how you go

Construction National blog logoAs I have been carrying out my various commissions in the comfort of my home I have been somewhat distracted by the rhythmic 'thwack-thwack' of a piledriver somewhere in the valley outside. I say somewhere, because it is not easy to distinguish from the echo around the valley which of the two major construction sites in the source. Yes, I said TWO major construction sites. One is a new development of social housing, while the other is a supermarket in the making.

It is the first sign of sustained activity in this small town since the new homes on the edge of the town completed its latest phase. It might disturb my concentration, but it's still a welcome sign.

Indeed, the housebuilding industry has been given a couple of boosts over the past week or so: much needed boosts at that. Although the number of completions and registrations in the third quarter was down on the second, both RICS and the NHBC see the prospect of improvement in the New Year. RICS, in particular, pointed to an upturn in demand for property – not just new property – driven by an increase in mortgage lending.

Then there was the announcement by Nick Clegg of the return of the garden city – garden cities and suburbs for the 21st century, he said. A pot of £225m of public money will be used to free up stalled developments as well as the encouragement of massive investment in large-scale schemes.

"It's time to think big!" said Cleggie.

If the investment in housing is mirrored by new infrastructure, the prospects in the long term are decidedly brighter. A start has been made with the three bidders for the new Mersey Gateway at Widnes-Runcorn submitting detailed bids. The bids cover design, construction and operation of the new toll bridge. Not normally a fan of turnpikes, I have cheerfully parted with cash to cross the Humber at Barton rather than spend all afternoon driving to Goole. You have it to do.

On a less optimistic note, the Road Safety Markings Association has sounded a warning that road markings are disappearing from the roads, including from a stretch of motorway that I use on a regular basis. It will, of course, lead to a pandemonium of drivers not knowing which way they are facing or where they are. In short, no effect at all.

Chris Stokes