London no longer ranked the ‘most expensive’ construction location

Posted on 23 April 2021

London has lost its crown as the most expensive city in the world to locate a construction project, new figures from Arcadis have found.

The latest International Construction Costs report from the consultant found that London was second behind Geneva and ahead of Copenhagen in the list of 100 cities. Other UK cities such as Bristol (15)  Manchester (17), Birmingham (22), Liverpool (23), Edinburgh (24) and Cardiff (25) made the global list.

Other cities in the top 10 included Oslo in fourth place, Zurich in fifth, New York slipping to sixth, with San Francisco, Hong Kong, Dublin and Macau making up the remainder of the top 10.

The least expensive cities in the 100 examined by the project team were all found in India with Bengaluru ranked at 100, Delhi at 99 and Mumbai at 98.

The Arcadis index was developed covering 20 building functions, based on a survey of construction costs, review of market conditions and the professional judgement from its global team of experts.

Arcadis’s calculations are based in US dollars and indexed against the price range for each building type relative to Amsterdam. The devaluation of the US dollar is the main factor contributing to a fall in the ranking of US cities such as New York and San Francisco to sixth and seventh place, respectively.

According to Arcadis, the COVID-19 pandemic saw construction output slump by 13 per cent in the UK last year, with activity only expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels next year.

Arcadis deputy chief executive for the UK and Ireland Nilesh Parmar said: “The UK construction sector managed the pandemic very well. Effective safety measures have enabled productivity levels to recover, and the construction sector has been singled out as a major contributor to the ‘build back better’ initiative in the UK. 

“The residential market has been buoyant through the year, supported by government intervention and global investment into mid-market build-to-rent. By contrast, the focus for investment in public transport is likely to shift away from London to other UK cities in line with the government’s post-Brexit ‘levelling-up’ agenda.”

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