Consent value rise seen as good sign
An economist says strong growth in the value of building consents in Palmerston North is another indication the city's economy is in an upswing, but Manawatu builders are not so sure.
Building consents data for the past 12 months to September shows a 26 per cent increase in the value of residential consents in Palmerston North.
Renovations, buildings and alterations worth $71 million were consented to in Palmerston North in the period September 2012 to 2013, up from $57m on the previous 12 months.
National growth was also 26 per cent.
Palmerston North City Council economic policy adviser Peter Crawford said the growth was a "turnaround" and an indicator of future economic good times in the city.
"Almost two years ago building consents were declining in Palmerston North. The result is great because the data is a signal of a future economic boost. This is investment that is going to happen in the next few years and it will benefit the Palmerston North economy when it does."
There were several trends in the recently issued Statistics New Zealand data, including a spike in consents when residential zoning in Whakarongo was announced, Mr Crawford said.
A large proportion of consents issued in the past year were in the Kelvin Grove area and these were largely located in new, intensive developments.
"I think what that shows is that even in the suburbs people want an affordable house with less work," Mr Crawford said.
"There's not the time there was for things like a big lawn and garden."
Forty per cent of residential consents in Palmerston North were residential infilling and Mr Crawford said this was a good sign.
"With petrol going up, people are looking closer to town. For planners it is great because the ideal scenario is to have a vibrant inner-city."
The Manawatu District's residential consents data, with just a 9 per cent growth in value of residential consents from $37m to $40m last year.
But the value of commercial property consents in the district was up 150 per cent on last year.
Commercial property consents were down in value by 3 per cent in Palmerston North. A $15m consent at Massey University in August for earthquake strengthening work and upgrades on its buildings had helped that statistic, Mr Crawford said.
Fowler Homes Manawatu owner Shane Walker said although the consents data suggested there was an increase coming in the sector, the impact had yet to hit.
"Inquiries are definitely up, but there's not been that huge surge. But having said that we're going better than average for sure - we've had one inquiry a day recently."
Humphries Construction project administrator Graham Ramsay said it had been business as usual for them, with few peaks or troughs.
"It's pretty constant out there."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you agree with increased oil exploration?