NSW housing approvals dropping below Victoria: Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson

NSW housing approvals dropping below Victoria: Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson
NSW housing approvals dropping below Victoria: Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson

GUEST OBSERVER

The latest ABS data on housing approvals indicates a fall in NSW compared to an increase in Victoria.

The approval numbers for apartments in New South Wales have dropped at the end of 2017 according to the latest ABS trend data.

We have seen a number of factors combining in the Sydney housing market that are discouraging developers from trying to get planning approvals leading to an approval slowdown.

the banks are continuing to minimise lending for new housing, the investment from China has cooled, many councils are proposing significant levies for affordable housing, there is a growing negative community reaction to new housing and the state government is removing the cap on contribution levels by councils.

When all of these factors combine confidence levels from developers decrease and the risk from new developments increases.

The December figures for NSW housing approvals by trend are 5,268 compared to a robust Victoria performance of 6,570. The number of apartment approvals is falling fast in NSW from 4,326 in July 2016 to 2,888 in December 2017. The Victorian apartment approvals for December 2017 are 3,361.

The NSW Government has been talking about approaches to affordable housing over the last year but expected guidance notes and an expected Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) have not been forthcoming.

This has led to uncertainty amongst the development industry about what extra levies may be added to a new housing project. The recently elected Inner West Council late last year proposed an affordable housing levy of 30% of apartments to be given back to the council from all new apartment developments. If excessive levies like this occur clearly new housing will slow down even further.

Another example of confidence levels decreasing is the pull out by respected developer Mirvac from a large housing project in the Hills Shire due to excessive apartment sizes required by councils above state standards.

Both the council in the Hills Shire and local members of state parliament have been attacking development proposals as being too big relative to existing infrastructure despite a new metro rail line being built by the state government.

While the NSW economy is in good shape compared to other states there are strong signals that confidence is dropping in the housing development sector which is a major employer of jobs.

The NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has stated that housing supply is the key to housing affordability so the government must do all it can to support more approvals for new homes through the planning system.

See below graphs based on ABS figures: 

NSW housing approvals dropping below Victoria: Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson is the CEO of Urban Taskforce.

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Building Approval Chris Johnson

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