The downturn in UK commercial development activity eased in April to its slowest for fourteen months.

Savills monthly index in the UK found that despite still showing a decline, the rate of decline is not as pronounced as previous months.

Around 26% of survey respondents reported a decline in activity during April, compared with 17% that indicated a rise.

The resultant net balance, the Total Commercial Development Activity Index, posted -8.9%, up from -15.5% in March.

But the index has still shown negative reading for a year-and-a-half.

Commercial developers signalled a slight degree of pessimism regarding the three-month outlook for business activity. The index rose in April to its highest since September 2007.

April data indicated that business sentiment was the highest for industrial/warehouse and retail & leisure activity.

Negative sentiment was again recorded for the three-month outlook for office development. But anecdotal evidence suggested that tentative signs of an improvement in client demand had supported overall business sentiment in April.

Mat Oakley, head of Savills' commercial research department, said: 'Things in the development business are now clearly not as bad as they were at the end of 2008. However, the economic news continues to worsen and we expect that news about rising business failures will remain a drag on developer optimism for the remainder of this year.'