Construction activity in the last quarter of 1999 was the strongest for two years, says the RICS.

The number of surveyors reporting a rise in workload rose to 34%; with 11% saying it had dropped. This gave a balance of 23% compared with a balance of 10%

a year earlier. The RICS attributed the upturn to strong demand for private housing and public sector work. However, the best results came in the commercial sector, reflecting the pace of demand for offices. Some experts predict that this will slow down this year.

Regionally, growth was strongest in the north of England. The RICS said: “Workloads in the North are rising at their fastest since 1994, supported by a sharp pick-up in public and private housing activity.”

The market survey reported sluggish activity in the Midlands and East Anglia, where public sector demand has lagged.