Building approvals on the rise in Lake Macquarie, but slowing on the Central Coast

LOOKING UP: Lake Macquarie saw 134 more housing approvals in 2017 than it had in 2016, making it the 'biggest mover' among the Hunter's Local Government Areas. Picture: David Stewart
LOOKING UP: Lake Macquarie saw 134 more housing approvals in 2017 than it had in 2016, making it the 'biggest mover' among the Hunter's Local Government Areas. Picture: David Stewart

BUILDING is booming in Lake Macquarie, but slowing on the Central Coast, according to the latest figures on new home approvals.

The data, from the Australia Bureau of Statistics, shows building activity was strong across the Hunter region in 2017, the Housing Industry Association said on Tuesday.

“In total, 4618 approvals were issued for new dwellings across the Hunter, compared to 4293 in 2016, an increase of 8 per cent on already elevated levels,” HIA Hunter executive director Craig Jennion said.

There was a 3 per cent decline in detached house approvals, which accounted for 61 per cent of all approvals, while multi-unit approvals increased by 29 per cent over the 2017 calendar year.

“Much of the heavy lifting for the residential sector continues to occur in the Lower Hunter, with the local government areas of Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and Maitland continuing to be the top three locations for approvals, accounting for over 77 per cent of total dwelling approvals,” Mr Jennion said.

Over the past 12 months, regional areas had the largest percentage of increases in total dwelling approvals.

“Dungog was the strongest, up 49 per cent, followed by Cessnock, up 17 per cent, and Scone, up 13 per cent,” he said.

“Lake Macquarie took out the title of ‘biggest mover’, increasing their housing approvals by 134 dwellings over 2016.”

It was a different story on the Central Coast.

Home building approval activity across the Central Coast softened in 2017.

“In 2017, a total of 1,411 approvals were issued for new dwellings across the Central Coast Council (area), compared to 1,666 in 2016, a decrease of 15 per cent on elevated levels”, Mr Jennion said.

“The most dominant dwelling type approved across the government area remained the detached house, despite a decline of 25 per cent.

“Pleasingly, the traditionally more volatile multi-unit sector saw a slight lift in approvals, with activity increasing by 1 per cent.

“Comprising almost 43 per cent of all approvals, the multi-unit sector was the strongest in the south of the municipality, a clear indicator that the supply of land is much more restricted.

“Most concerning was the 35 per cent drop in total approvals in the north of the government area, and the fact that the 2017 total approval numbers are 664 dwellings, or 32 per cent, below the annual target established in the Central Coast Regional Plan 2036.”

Strong consumer confidence coupled with a prediction of continuing historically low interest rates could see a stronger housing result for the Central Coast in 2018 than analysts expect, he said.

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