New-home consents drop in Canterbury

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 13:10 30/01/2013

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New-home construction plans dropped in Canterbury last month, with 281 consents issued, down from the highs of previous months.

November boasted 413 consents, the highest monthly number of new-dwelling consents in more than five years.

That followed 333 consents in Canterbury in October, 396 in September and 394 in August.

Statistics New Zealand figures show that the 281 consents last month was well ahead of the 199 for the region in December 2011.

Of the 281 new homes approved in November, 96 were in Christchurch and 185 in other Canterbury districts, figures show.

Earthquake-related building consents in Canterbury totalled $45 million last month after totalling $59m in November.

Of that total, $42m was for residential buildings, including 116 quake-related dwellings, and $2m for non-residential work.

In 2012, the monthly value ranged from $25m to $59m.

Statistics New Zealand industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno said nationally last year, the number of consents for new dwellings increased by 3267, or 24 per cent, to 16,929 from 2011.

This was the largest number of new dwellings consented in a calendar year since 2008.

The regions with the largest number of new dwellings consented were Auckland, up 810, or 21 per cent, to 4582, and Canterbury, up 1,642, or 69 per cent, to 4037.

Registered Master Builders Federation chief executive Warwick Quinn said the latest figures confirmed expectations that the Canterbury and Auckland regions would lead the residential building recovery, while activity in the rest of New Zealand might remain weak for some time.

The figures show 1381 new homes and apartment consents were issued last month, a 23 per cent increase on December 2011.

New residential consents for 2012 totalled 16,929, compared with 13,662 in 2011.

Quinn had been predicting a "tale of two cities" for some time and was not surprised by the result.

Of the 16,929 new residential consents issued, 50 per cent were from the Auckland and Canterbury regions, with Auckland also bucking the usual December drop because of the holiday period.

He expected this market share to be greater in 2013 as the rebuild in Canterbury gained momentum and Auckland responded to its housing shortage.

Housing pressures in Auckland and Canterbury were driving up property values, Quinn said.

"The rest of New Zealand has flat property prices and thus similar levels of building activity."

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While the increased level of work was welcome, overall building activity was still coming off record low levels, he said.

"New Zealand should be building in the order of 20,000 to 25,000 new homes per annum to maintain its housing stock and population growth, and we have been well below those levels for the last five years," he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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