Residential building consents rise to 13-year high in 2017

(BusinessDesk)

New Zealand residential building consents advanced 3.4 percent last year to their highest level in 13 years as a jump in apartment and townhouse consents offset a decline in stand-alone houses.

A total of 31,087 new homes were consented in 2017, up from 30,066 consents in 2016 and marking the highest level since 2004 when 31,423 new residential buildings were consented, according to Statistics New Zealand.

In the latest year, consents for apartment units surged 35 percent to a 13-year high of 3,239, while consents for townhouses, flats, units and other dwellings rose 11 percent to a 23-year high of 4,875. In contrast, stand-alone house consents fell 1.4 percent to 21,022 while retirement village units slipped 0.1 percent to 1,951.

"While stand-alone house consents fell in 2017, they still account for the lion's share of all new homes consented," construction statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said. "The fall in stand-alone houses consented was more than offset by a large rise in new apartment units consented during the year."

McKenzie said there was strong residential building consent growth in many regions in 2017, led by gains in Auckland, Otago and Wellington, although consents in Canterbury declined for a third year after rising significantly during the post-2011 earthquake rebuild.

In Auckland, where building supply has failed to keep up with population growth in the nation's largest city, residential consents lifted 8.4 percent to a 13-year high of 10,867.

"Over a third of all new homes in New Zealand were consented in the Auckland region last year, which is in line with Auckland's share of the New Zealand population," McKenzie said. "This is the first time since 2004 that the proportion of new homes consented in Auckland exceeded their share of the population."

Record numbers of retirement village units, townhouses, flats, and other units were consented in Auckland last year. While apartment units were also a significant part of building consents in Auckland in 2017, there were bigger numbers of apartments consented in the early 2000s. Only a quarter of all new stand-alone houses consented in New Zealand were for Auckland.

Elsewhere, Wellington consents advanced 15 percent to 2,294 and Otago consents surged 24 percent to a record 2,240 reflecting more new houses, townhouses and apartments in Queenstown, Stats NZ said. In Canterbury, consents dropped 15 percent to 5,004 while Waikato consents fell 1.3 percent to 3,507 and Bay of Plenty consents slid 0.6 percent to 2,506.

For the month of December, nationwide residential consents fell a seasonally adjusted 9.6 percent, reversing a 9.6 percent gain in November, Stats NZ said.

The value of non-residential building permits climbed 8 percent to $6.5 billion last year, while the floor area consented advanced 6.8 percent to 2,851,000 square metres.

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