Strong demand for commercial projects, infrastructure and private housing has led to a 26% increase in orders in the three months to July, according to DTI figures.

This partly reflects a slowdown in the first half of the year: May to July in 2006 was only 6% higher than the same period last year.

Private commercial orders showed the greatest growth compared with the previous three months, rising 37%.

Infrastructure orders climbed 34%, and the Construction Products Association has predicted that infrastructure output will grow 5.5% this year and 8% in 2007. However, year-on year, infrastructure orders for the 12 months to July are down 9% on the same period last year.

Private housing orders grew 13% over three months but fell 5% year-on-year. Commercial orders jumped 37% over the three months and 35% year on year. The sectors where orders declined were public and housing association, public non-housing and industrial orders.