Architects and contractors in the South-east are so busy they are pushed to find time to tell you about it. From Oxford to Winchester to Southampton, the story is the same: workloads are heavy, tender prices are up, and skilled, experienced staff are thin on the ground.

Reflecting the current housebuying frenzy in the South-east, the housing sector is hot. Major schemes include the £100m, 93 000 m2, Gunwharf Quay scheme at Portsmouth Harbour, including 300 flats and houses, for developer Berkeley Homes/Lordland, and 500 residential units for Berkeley Homes at Knowle near Winchester.

Many residential schemes are attached to town-centre retail projects. Hampshire is buzzing with anticipation at Basingstoke’s town centre transformation into Festival Place, a £300m, 85 000 m2 mixed-use scheme by Grosvenor Estates set to rival Kent’s Bluewater shopping mall. In Oxfordshire, a £30m, 12 ha redevelopment of Didcot town centre by Taywood Property in partnership with South Oxfordshire District Council is set to start on site before 2001.

The South East Economic Development Agency has plans for top architectural practices to upgrade two of the South-east’s less attractive town centres Gravesend and Barking. It is also carrying out a £125m redevelopment of Chatham Dockyard, which will become a 600-berth marina and a 21 365 m2 mixed-use scheme.

Mega schemes are monopolising the market for bricklayers, plasterers and steelworkers in their regions, causing hikes in wages and materials prices and pushing up overall costs. Tender prices are edging up, although the market is still tight and competitive.

South-east and South Coast

It’s been an excellent start to the year. We’re landing new jobs every day Peter Warlow director of architect Hedley Greentree Partnership, Fareham It’s not quite a boom, but it’s very busy Peter Norman senior partner, Oxford Architects Partnership People pay lip-service to partnering. Politically they think it’s the correct thing to do, but they are still looking at lowest price. Most contracts are two-stage tenders and they call that a negotiated job Nigel Fielding marketing manager, Brazier Construction Key projects £300m Festival Place Basingstoke town centre £100m Gunwharf Quay Portsmouth £300m Grosvenor Estates development, being built by Laing Price of a pint £2.20 Price of a three-bed semi From £70 000 in Portsmouth to £250 000 in Southampton’s seafront Ocean Village development or in the New Forest