Victoria leads in home approvals

By Angela Dorizas

Victoria boasts the largest rise in home approvals, while rates in New South Wales and Queensland continue to decline, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The trend estimate of total dwellings approved rose 0.4 per cent in March, which was the first increase since November 2007.

Trend estimates of home approvals rose in most states and territories, with Victoria experiencing the highest trend estimate increase of 3.7 per cent.

But trend estimates fell by 3.4 per cent in NSW, 3.1 per cent in Queensland and 1.3 per cent in Tasmania.

The Urban Taskforce said the latest ABS figures illustrated the “greater confidence” developers had in Victoria over any other state or territory.

The Taskforce’s chief executive Aaron Gadiel attributed this to a “more certain planning system” within Victoria.

“Developers of large residential projects have had difficulty in securing bank finance in every state,” Gadiel said.

“However, many developers are still pursuing development approvals in anticipation of credit markets thawing, particularly in Victoria.

“Victoria may end up leading Australia in a private sector residential construction

He said the higher costs of obtaining development approvals in NSW made it less worthwhile to pursue residential development, particularly when bank finance is uncertain.

“NSW needs to swiftly implement planning reforms in a way that rebuilds investment confidence,” Gadiel said.

“This means fully implementing the $20,000 per home cap on local council levies.”

The Urban Taskforce has also called for greater protection from what they believe is “arbitrary government or council action”.

“Developers have been reluctant to invest in NSW because their land value could easily be deflated by unanticipated planning decisions,” Gadiel said.

The NSW Planning Minister Kristina Keneally recently released the 2007-08 Metropolitan Development Monitor, the State Government’s chief tool for tracking land supply in the Greater Sydney metropolitan area.

It revealed that there were 66 undeveloped or ‘Greenfield’ housing land in Sydney with a total potential of 108,180 dwellings, which is 14.4 years’ supply.

Of these areas, 39 had been zoned and serviced, creating a potential 33,899 dwellings or five years’ supply. Zoned and service land is expected to increase by a further 63,663 potential dwellings, or nine years’ supply, over the next five years.
At the time, the Minister said "there is no doubt the NSW housing market has experienced a downturn, but these figures show this is not being driven by a lack of land supply."

In responding to the latest ABS statistics, a spokesperson for the Minister said there was enough Greenfield release areas in Sydney to “immediately bring five year’s supply to the market, with forecasts of even higher stocks of zoned and serviced land in upcoming years”.

“The NSW Government has also launched the NSW Housing Code, allowing people wanting to build new homes to get approval in 10 days, saving an average of 110 days per application if the proposed house meets set standards,” the spokesperson said.

“Infrastructure levies have also been reduced to provide a much-needed boost to the building industry, reducing State and local government levies by up to $64,000 per lot.”

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