The RICS construction workload survey posted its first increase in two years in the first quarter of 2010

The figures showed a swing from -12 in the final three months of 2009, to +5 from January to March this year, although the improvement was mainly in London. The higher the positive figure, the greater the increase in workload.

The survey also revealed that private commercial workloads changed from -11 to +17. The news has been reflected recently in developers pushing ahead on several major commercial projects, such as the Cheesegrater and the Walkie-Talkie towers in London.

In London and the South-east there was a sharp swing in workloads, from -15 to +21. In the Midlands and East Anglia there was a less dramatic swing, from -9 to +10. However, in the north of England and Scotland the balance remained negative, at -7 and -6 respectively, only slightly slower declines than the previous quarter. In Northern Ireland workloads dropped dramatically from -37 to -59.

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “The construction sector seems to be finally lifting its head above the recession parapet, but the continuing lack of development finance remains a major obstacle to a sustainable recovery, with surveyors still pessimistic about future prospects.”

Concerns over likely cuts in public sector capital spending programmes is another factor contributing towards the cautious stance of respondents to the survey.”