Polypipe Civils Comment: Q2 2020

Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Polypipe Civils is BMBI’s Expert for Civils & Green Infrastructure.

In common with most businesses, it was a challenge to align our operations with the market as Covid restrictions eased. With no consistent return across construction projects and the merchant sector, we adopted more flexible and adaptable working processes to meet significant fluctuations in demand. Local lockdowns added further instability to trading conditions.

From the end of June, all civils and green urbanisation sectors saw an upturn in sales volumes. Residential-related business were the strongest, having been amongst the hardest hit. Other sectors such as land drainage were consistently solid throughout the pandemic and remain so. Planning and specification activity have continued relatively unaffected. Within civils, the recent changes to the codes governing adoptable sewers have opened the market. Plastic is now specifically referenced as a material option for all applications. This long-awaited change will see the benefits of lightweight, environmentally compatible pipelines transform the market. Our outlook on the longer-term civils market post-Covid, broadly follows that of the CPA.

Looking at Green Urbanisation, as restrictions on movement have further relaxed, the community value of access to green spaces and the size of those spaces are increasingly in the spotlight. More people want to experience natural environments more frequently, but this causes frustrations and threatens the health of the ecosystem. Re-imagining how we introduce green assets into the urban landscape eases the pressure. Parklets and pop-up spaces are gaining traction with versatile and sustainable green solutions offering all the benefits of green urbanisation in a stand-alone package.

With green urbanisation extending SuDS into new product areas and deeper into the city landscape, we’re seeing an increasing number of enquiries with this wider perspective. Drainage is becoming a solution driven market lead by changing legislation and planning policy focusing on net zero carbon and biodiversity gains.

As I write, we’ve just finished six regional ‘Polypipe ‘Realising Resilience e-Roadshows’. Interest has far exceeded expectations – a sign that green urbanisation is opening new ways of thinking, new solutions and new commercial opportunities. Government climate change policy is developing quickly, and our new broadcast formats are designed to communicate the knowledge and implications to all levels of merchant businesses.

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.

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