Cork’s construction prospects look sky high

2016 was a pivotal year for construction activity in Cork and nationwide, up by 15% for the year ended, while further growth of up to 20% is expected locally and nationally in 2017, say international asset managers and professional advisory firm AECOM.

Tower cranes on the Cork skyline for the new courthouse on Anglesea Street. Picture: Larry Cummins

Launching AECOM’s 2017 market forecast tonight in Cork, John O’Regan, Head of Programme, Cost and Consultancy, notes that commercial activity was the main driver in 2016, followed up by a pickup in house building with an estimated output of €14.5bn, up from €12.25bn in 2015, which in turn was a 12.5% increase on 2014, indicating a steady trajectory with 20% growth now anticipated by end 2017.

However, Ireland “needs significant infrastructure and residential spend if it is to sustain economic growth,” says Mr O’Regan noting “while construction activity began to pick up in the regions in the second half of 2016, it is still sluggish compared to the greater Dublin area.” While employment in the sector rose 9,000 to Q3 2016, the floor area of non-residential development granted planning floor space was up 70% in the 12 months to July 2016, the AECOM review/preview points out.

Cork’s construction sector turned a corner in 2016, says AECOM associate Glenn Hanna, forecasting that public capital expenditure “should form the foundations for future growth in the construction industry” at local level, “though it’s vital to attract back our skilled resources, maintain competitiveness and address the significant deficits from seven years of underinvestment.”

On an upbeat note, Mr Hanna points to current activity and tower cranes at the courthouse on Anglesea Street; the Capitol retail/office site on Grand Parade; Páirc Uí Chaoimh; Cork City North West Primary Care Centre in St Mary’s Health Campus, Gurranabraher; Bon Secours Hospital North Block; and, next door on college Road, UCC’s Student Hub, along with various school projects.

“Looking ahead, Cork’s commercial development is set to grow even more, with John Cleary Developments continuing to take a lead role in the city’s growth through plans for a mixed-use development in Mahon, and significant new developments by Clarendon Properties, currently at feasibility stage, including CIE’s Horgan’s Quay land and Wilton Shopping Centre,” Mr Hanna outlines, while offices are in the pipeline in Albert Quay, Andersons Quay and Camden Quay.

Other projects in the wings include the pharma sector, too, with reinvestment on existing campuses such as Eli Lilly (a decison on the €200m expansion is due to be made in May) Johnson & Johnson, Bio Marin and General Electric’s new campus development.

“With traffic in and out of Ringaskiddy beginning to reach breaking point, calls to upgrade the N28 road to Ringaskiddy and Dunkettle interchange have come to the fore — we all want to be on the road to recovery, but don’t want to sit in traffic while trying to get there,” observes Mr Hanna.

Further, the HSE has several projects to come, the OPW will have significant flood prevention work along the quays, while Cork City Council’s new LAPs will look at prospects for the south docks and Tivoli.

UCC proposes action on the Cork Science and Technology Park at Curraheen, plus a new sports centre, Student Hub and planned student accommodation, while Cork Institute of Technology will shortly start the first €1m phase of refurbishment of their strategic acquisition at 46 Grand Parade, whilst other new developments may be required in CIT partnership with Institute of Technology Tralee.

Details:

AECOM Cork, 021-4365006

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