20 per cent decline in NSW housing starts

5 October 2011

NSWs housing supply is now in big trouble, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today. The Urban Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that NSWs new home construction starts fell by a seasonally adjusted 20.1 per cent in the June quarter, making an emergency housing supply plan crucial.

Thats a massive drop, Mr Gadiel said.

Its NSWs biggest single quarterly fall in five years.

In the light of these figures its vital that the NSW Government produce an emergency housing supply plan before Christmas.

Mr Gadiel said that the big NSW decline contrasted with Victoria and South Australia which saw 6.8 per cent and 4.5 per cent increases respectively. Western Australia fell by 1.3 per cent.

It took the mammoth disruption flowing from Queenslands floods to help drive that states new home starts down by 16.3 per cent, yet NSW is managing a bigger fall without natures assistance, he said.

Mr Gadiel said the Australian Bureau of Statistics trend figures – which smooth out short-term fluctuations in numbers – were also alarming for NSW.

NSWs 3.9 per cent drop in new home construction starts is the biggest June quarter fall amongst all of the mainland states, he said.

Its double the decline of Queensland and South Australia.

Its four times the fall seen by Western Australia.

It compares with a 1 per cent increase in Victoria.

Mr Gadiel said that NSWs private sector residential construction starts in the June quarter were 11 per cent down when compared with the same quarter last year, while, for Victoria, there was an increase of 4.8 per cent.

Work started on 6,700 homes in NSW, compared with 14,700 in Victoria and 6,000 in Queensalnd.

NSWs housing supply is clearly in dire trouble, Mr Gadiel said.

Any problems in other mainland states pale into significance.

The NSW Governments current review of town planning laws is welcome, but any reforms that start in 2013 will do nothing to help the housing supply when its needed now.

Its vital that the state government act swiftly on these latest figures.

They should produce an emergency housing supply plan before Christmas.

Mr Gadiel said the industry was seeking:

¢ appeal rights for rezoning applicants;

¢ the abolition or dramatic reform of development levies;

¢ timely decision-making enforced by a mandatory timetable;

¢ more flexibility for individual development proposals to be assessed on their own merits, rather than through rigid pre-determined local council controls;

¢ a better decision-making process – at arm’s-length from parochial politics – when a key reason for a development is to service the needs of people who aren’t currently locals; and

¢ special legislation to restore business confidence in past planning approvals.

Without the quick delivery of these reforms, the housing supply is likely to suffer further blows.

We hate to think what the situation will look like if reform is not delivered until 2013.

The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.

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