The number of new construction schemes in Manchester fell by almost half in 2019, new research has revealed.

Deloitte’s annual Crane Survey gives a general snapshot of development across the city centres of Manchester and Salford and is seen as a significant measure of economic health.

Since 2014, transformation of the skyline has been relentless, particularly in the number of apartments and flats built.

Deloitte hailed 2018 as a record-breaking year with more than 14,000 residential units under construction and 44 new schemes started.

Partner Simon Bedford said at the time:”Manchester has firmly established itself as one of Europe’s fastest growing cities.

“We’ve reached the point where Manchester should be judged by different criteria from other UK regional cities.

“Manchester is now in a different league, genuinely competing with other European and international cities.”

Fast forward twelve months and the headlines are more mixed.

The 27 schemes completed in 2019 is the second highest since Deloitte’s survey began in 2002.

But the number of new starts has fallen by 48 per cent to 23, and the number of residential units under construction has fallen by around 2,000 compared to 2018.

The Black Friar stands at the heart of developer Salboy’s Local Blackfriars scheme on the corner of Blackfriars Road and Trinity Way (Image: Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photography Ltd)

A number of key developments were completed last year, including West Tower in Deansgate Square, Trinity Blackfriars and the first phase of Manchester Life.

And more are on their way in 2020, especially in the hotel sector which is booming.

Officials at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce expressed concerns last year that the number of new projects was ‘drying up’, while small business leaders complained that Brexit uncertainty was resulting in a lack of confidence.

While by no means sounding the alarm of doom and gloom, the Deloitte reports suggests that Manchester’s construction activity may have hit its peak.

Partner John Cooper said: “This years’ results also show a slight reduction in new starts.

“This could suggest that last year’s record results, in terms of overall activity, may prove to have been a peak in the current development cycle.

“To be clear however, the latest results still represent one of the highest levels of construction activity since our records began in 2002, and given the geo-political uncertainty experienced in recent times, this is a further testament to the city’s market strength, profile and resilience.”

The report says the number of new construction schemes has fallen by almost 50 per cent (Image: Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photography Ltd)

The findings of the report also suggested that construction is moving further outwards from the city centre.

Salford accounted for 43 per cent of the residential units under construction in 2019, more than 5,000 compared with 1,782 in Manchester city centre.

Deloitte said this shift in activity is expected to continue with 75 per cent of new residential developments in 2019 taking place in Salford and ‘Southern Arc’, the area to the south of the city centre.

Simon Bedford, partner at Deloitte Real Estate, said: “In 2014, we saw a huge surge in construction activity across both Manchester and Salford that lasted, in earnest, until 2019.

“Now, while the number of new starts is levelling out, we are seeing the results of Manchester’s construction boom reflected in the city’s skyline.

“The strength of the commercial sector is a promising sign for the city, as we continue to see an increased demand for high quality office space.

“When these office schemes ate completed, it is estimated that this will add 15,500 new jobs, £570m in gross value added and £309m in wages to the regional economy.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “New residential schemes have helped to kickstart regeneration in many key areas of the city.

“Emerging neighbourhoods such as New Islington and Ancoats are now some of the most desirable locations in Manchester, with a new generation of social housing helping to support communities.”