Property and construction professionals in Bristol and the South West remain optimistic about their prospects in 2017, with their confidence levels second only to those in London and the South East, according to a major report by Smith & Williamson.
The firm’s annual survey of senior executives in the property and construction sector, found the greatest levels of confidence in the residential arena, with almost three-quarters (74%) seeing housing as a compelling five-year investment, a 10% rise on the previous year.
Paul Bray, a partner in Smith & Williamson’s property and construction team based in Bristol, outlined some of the possible reasons for the sector’s optimism.
He comments: “Bristol has the second fastest growing economy outside of London and people are increasingly drawn to the city as well as the South West’s many other thriving commercial centres and beautiful countryside. This further strengthens demand for cost-effective housing with the availability and price of building land providing added incentives to developers, particularly when compared to London and the South East.”
Smith & Williamson’s report shows that confidence also remains strong in commercial property, partly fuelled in the South West by works starting at Hinkley Point C.
Planning was cited as the number one barrier to growth. A shortage of development land was highlighted as another ongoing challenge.
One area which isn’t being properly exploited but which could provide property and construction companies with a welcome boost to cash flow, is the ability to claim tax relief on research and development (R&D) expenditure.
Paul Bray explained: “There are significant opportunities for companies to save tax but the majority aren’t aware of them. HMRC has tried to simplify things for smaller businesses, typically with a turnover of less than £2m, by introducing an advance clearance system – but even this isn’t been fully exploited.”