The Welsh market is split between the potential boom of the South and the continued stultifying of mid-Wales.

In the Welsh capital, a combination of the Cardiff Bay makeover, including the Wales Millennium Centre, the National Assembly and the Millennium Stadium has fuelled an explosion of hotels, bars and restaurants. One of the larger leisure schemes is the Taylor Woodrow-built, Burgess-designed £18m cinema and health club for developer Brunswick next to the Millennium Stadium.

Newport, Cardiff’s poor relation, is set for a boost, with Morrison Developments obtaining planning permission for the £50m Spires shopping centre in the town centre. Meanwhile, Swansea is still waiting for a backer for its town-centre redevelopment after MEPC pulled out of the £160m Castle Quays site in January.

But there is a shortage of good-quality and experienced QSs and architects. According to Carolyn Merrifield, a partner with architect Burgess, IT technicians command £30 000 a year, and newly qualified architects are looking for a starting salary of £17 000, similar to London rates. And many QSs tend to hot-foot it to London, says Symonds business development director Howard Gadd.

The Welsh assembly may have got off to a rocky start, but once the European funding is finalised, it will help attract projects to the Valleys. Despite a lack of good employees and the feeling that parts of Wales are neglected, Cardiff’s air of confidence is set to permeate the rest of the country. “Cardiff is dynamic and going places. The National Assembly is empowering people, and opportunities won’t be denied,” says Symonds’ Gadd.

South Wales

Looking around Cardiff there are loads of tower cranes, but for future workloads, the clever money is looking towards Swansea Wendy Jones business development manager, Percy Thomas Partnership The passive and active leisure market is quite buoyant. Hotels are going up all over the place in Cardiff, and we seem to have more cinemas than people Graham Carr managing director,E Turner and Sons Key projects Health club and cinema next to Wales Millennium Stadium £70m Percy Thomas Partnership-designed Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, which Amec is about to start work on £50m redevelopment of Newport shopping centre by Morrison Developments Price of a pint £1.65 Price of a three-bed semi £75 000