Hamilton is a city on the rise. Our success is attracting national attention and a phrase I have been hearing a lot lately is 'Hamilton's Renaissance'.
It tells of a city which is benefiting from sustained economic, population and housing growth within our community and in the wider Waikato.
Everything we do is based around improving the wellbeing of Hamiltonians, whether that's ensuring we maintain high-quality water and wastewater supplies, developing and building new sports parks and community facilities or creating the essential infrastructure to support growth.
As thousands of new residents make Hamilton their home each year, we're also investing to manage congestion and improve safety across our transport network. New and improved connectivity for walking and cycling is a big part of this.
In recent years Hamilton has experienced its strongest residential housing boom, in both house sales prices and number of new homes being built since the 2008 financial crisis.
We're investing $2 billion in the city's biggest-ever 10-Year capital programme to set the platform for planned, sustainable growth and to look after Hamilton's future transport, infrastructure and community facilities.
Our 10-Year Plan and our development contributions policy means we know what growth costs our city and sets an appropriate cost for developers to build here. We want sustainable, quality growth and we work closely with our planners and developers to achieve this.
From 2015 to 2017 Hamilton City Council received consent applications for around 600 new lots in the first half of each year. This year we received 2550. This spike was prompted by some developers getting in ahead of the new development contribution charges in July, but we've already received applications for around 300 more lots since then.
On the building consent side, we approved 635 new homes to be built in the first six months of this year — a 5 per cent increase on the same period last year and with a value of around $163 million.
Hamilton's taking off and it's no coincidence we were the first city to receive a share of the Government's Housing Infrastructure Fund. This 10-Year interest-free loan lets us invest in the roads and infrastructure developers need to build thousands of more homes in the city's south.
The latest REINZ data shows Hamilton house sales are still steady — 272 in August and 244 in September. The average house value in Hamilton increased by 3.2 per cent by June 2018 compared to 2017, a rise greater than in Auckland or Tauranga but we are still more affordable than those cities. Other indicators reflect more positivity and confidence — Hamilton's annual retail sales were up 4 per cent in June, car and commercial vehicle sales are increasing at an above-average pace and non-residential consents were up 36 per cent over the 12 months to June 2018.
Our central city is growing and becoming more vibrant all the time, with new retail and office space and electronic spending up $20 million in the first three quarters of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
Another boost for the city came last month when Fitch Ratings, a global leader in credit ratings and research affirmed Hamilton City Council's high international credit rating. The Fitch report reflected a strong institutional framework for the Council, stable financial performance and strong population and employment growth.
Hamilton is buzzing. We're working to support this resurgence and Hamiltonians should be rightfully proud of their city's success.