Canterbury leads jump in building consents

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Building consent issuance has surged from the same time last year. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Building consent issuance has surged from the same time last year. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Building consents in Canterbury have doubled from this time last year, helping boost the overall value of national housing approvals by nearly 30 per cent.

Statistics New Zealand today released figures for the number and value of building consents issued in June.

The total value of residential building consents jumped 27 per cent, from $360 million last June to $456 million.

Industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno said the increase in residential building consents last month was driven by the South Island.

"In June, the number of new housing approvals in Canterbury more than doubled from a record low one year ago, and increased by over 90 per cent in the Otago region."

New housing numbers in Canterbury rose from an all-time low last June of 133 to 296 this year.

Most of these were outside Christchurch city, in the surrounding districts.

Earthquake-related consents in Canterbury totalled $45 million, with $26 million of this for non-residential work and $19 million for residential work.

As a national total, consent was issued for 1277 new houses, an increase of 28 per cent from June 2011. Of these, 118 were apartments.

For the year ended June 2012, there were12 per cent more new homes approved than the year ended June 2011.

Wellington had the second-largest regional increase, up by 83, most of which was city apartments.

The value of non-residential consent rose in June 2012 by 7.7 per cent from last year, up to $256 million.

Despite monthly fluctuations, the underlying trend remained one of a gradual recovery in house building demand, said ASB economist Christina Leung.

"The recovery in residential consent issuance since the beginning of the year has been underpinned by rebuilding activity in Canterbury."

Earthquake-rebuild work was continuing to underpin this trend and strong construction activity in the region was likely to continue over the coming months, she said.

Leung said non-residential construction activity looked to be recovering at a more gradual pace.

"Overall, the trend improvement in non-residential consent issuance points to a recovery in non-residential construction activity over the coming year, albeit at a very gradual pace."

She said the Christchurch Central Development Unit's blueprint for the city's CBD, to be released today, would detail where key infrastructure would be sited within the inner city.

"We expect that as rebuilding gathers momentum later this year this will provide a further boost to construction activity and see capacity pressures grow in the building sector.

"Recent business surveys already point to tentative signs of capacity pressures in the building sector in Canterbury."

Data for building consents is obtained from all territorial authorities in New Zealand.

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