Building magazine: London faring better than most in the wake of the COVID crisis

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  • Building magazine: London faring better than most in the wake of the COVID crisis
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Russell Lloyd


Russell Lloyd


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“London faring better than most in the wake of the COVID crisis”. This was the headline in the recent Building article that featured results from the second iteration of a rolling global survey we have been running featuring insights from our colleagues in our global offices about the impact of the pandemic on their businesses, tender enquiries and the construction market in their regions. 

Consultant adds work in capital holding up because sites stayed open and size of projects being built

London is one of the three cities in Europe faring better than others, a survey of Rider Levett Bucknall offices into the COVID-19 pandemic has found.

The capital, along with Amsterdam and Hungarian capital Budapest, is holding up well, respondents said, with sites continuing to operate during lockdown being cited as one reason for its robustness.

The survey said Athens, Dublin, Madrid and Moscow were the most affected cities by sector.

The firm said London had benefitted from sites staying open when the UK went into lockdown on 23 March.

RLB added: “Construction [in the UK] was excluded from the lockdown restrictions. Although this led to some short-term confusion and the closure of many sites, the CLC Site Operating Procedure, which was published very quickly after the lockdown, gave a framework for sites to reopen very quickly. This has not been the case around the world with many countries having complete site closures for several weeks.

“The other issues that may have made London more optimistic than other cities are the size of projects – large projects have been generally affected less than small projects and London has a lot of large projects. Similarly, London has a lot of active infrastructure work, health projects and digital industry all of which have been much less affected by the impact of COVID-19 than other sectors.”

It added that interventionist measures such as the furlough scheme, due to finish at the end of October, and telling public sector clients to keep supply chains intact and bills paid had also helped. “These have had a significant impact on the construction sector in the UK and meant that the sector has been able to weather the storm reasonably well – so far.”

London streets were deserted during the peak of the lockdown in April

It is the second monthly survey RLB, which has 22 affiliate firms around the world and employs 4,000 people globally, has produced since the coronavirus crisis escalated.

It said 45% of respondents reported less than a 20% drop-off in tender enquiries while 60% of respondents reported less than 30% drop in productivity.

But a quarter said the recovery time would be more than 15 months, up from 13% in April.


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