NSW government too concerned with residential approvals, rather than completions

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Development lobby group Urban Taskforcehas raised concerns the NSW Government is too focussed on approval figures for new housing in the state, rather than the number of dwellings actually constructed.

Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have shown that residential approvals fell over November, the fourth straight month a fall has been recorded.

"The Australian Bureau of Statistics' November figures for housing approvals indicate a steady fall from a high in July of 5,579 to 5,130 in November 2015,” Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson said.

“The main drop has been in higher density apartments which have fallen from 3,325 in July to 2,967 in November 2015. This seems to indicate that the high point in housing approvals was in the middle of 2015 and that the industry is now moving downwards to a more normal level,” he said.

While 2015 may have been a record year for approvals in the state, Johnson said there are concerns given the number of approvals that did not make it to the construction stage.

“While the approval numbers over the calendar year for 2015 have been high, and at record levels according to the NSW Government, the Urban Taskforce is concerned that even during the boom times the number of homes actually built in Sydney during the 2014 / 2015 year were 5,000 below the average required over a 20 year period based on NSW Government figures for Sydney,” he said.

“The average housing completions required for Sydney is 33,200 yet in the last financial year housing completions in Sydney only reached 27,348.”

According to the lobby group, only around 60% of approvals are ever completed. The group claims complex planning laws and an overly stringent approval process are to blame.

“The Urban Taskforce is concerned that the NSW Government is overly focussed on measuring approval numbers rather than actual completions. Investigations are required into why 40% of approvals do not translate to real projects,” Johnson said.

“Much of the problem is in the complex planning system, concurrences and particularly the onerous conditions that qualify approvals.”

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