Record housing completions is good news but the trend is downwards: Chris Johnson

Record housing completions is good news but the trend is downwards: Chris Johnson
Record housing completions is good news but the trend is downwards: Chris Johnson


The announcement by the Minister for Housing and Planning, Anthony Roberts, that housing completions have reached a record high is good news for housing supply but the approvals trend is downwards.

The record 34,121 housing completions for metropolitan Sydney is good for housing supply.

This is the highest figure since May 1971 when 35,886 homes were completed. The high completion numbers come from planning approvals from two years ago so it is important to also monitor current approvals.

The large component of high density apartments in the current housing completion numbers at 72 percent indicates a continuing swing to urban living in locations close to jobs and transport nodes. It is important that this trend continues but the Urban Taskforce is concerned that the Greater Sydney Commission’s District Plans will make it more difficult to develop housing in urban centres and on industrial land.

The housing approval numbers for Sydney have dropped from a high in September 2016 of 57,723 year to date to 54,722 in December 2016. Our concern is that this drop of 3,000 housing approvals seems to be a continuing trend which is supported by the January Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for housing approvals.

To enable a continuing pipeline of new housing for Sydney the Urban Taskforce has asked its members for details of large housing projects that are caught up in the planning system. We have received details of over 40 projects representing around 40,000 new homes that are locked in the planning system that could be fast tracked.

Today’s strong housing completion numbers are heading in the right direction but they are still below the average needed over 20 years according to Department of Planning projections. We really need over 40,000 new homes annually over the next few years to balance the previous lean years.

The NSW Planning system is seen by many industry experts to be slower and more complex than that in Victoria or Queensland and the new Planning Minister has an opportunity to simplify the system to ensure a continuing pipeline of housing approvals comes on line.

Chris Johnson is chief executive officer of property development industry group Urban Taskforce and can be contacted here.

New Dwellings Housing Completions

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