Sentiment in the commercial development market is improving, research by Savills has said.

The consultancy said that 35% of respondents to its commercial development survey said that there was a decline in development activity in February compared to 14% who reported an increase, resulting in a net balance on Savills’ commercial development activity index of -20.4%.

Despite showing the overall opinion on development activity to be negative, the figures compare with a net balance of -38% in January. It is also the third month in a row showing sentiment improving.

Mat Oakley, head of Savills’commercial research, said: ‘Spring is clearly beginning to impact on development activity and developer’s confidence.

‘While the balance of opinion is still negative, it is clear that some optimism is emerging about the prospects for development.

‘While availability of finance will undoubtedly remain an issue for sometime, we continue to expect a steady improvement in sentiment as the year progresses.’

Savills said the figures could be a sign that the commercial development market is past the worst of the downturn.

Refurbishment and industrial/warehouse projects were the best performing areas of development activity. The sharpest declines in development activity were in new build and retail and leisure.

The south east was the best performing region.