Current at: 17 July 2006
The residential construction industry is on the move again in Coffs Harbour after three years of decline, the Housing Industry Association said today.
Figures prepared by HIA, Australia’s peak residential building industry group, indicate that total dwelling approvals have increased by 2 per cent over the same time last year. Housing approvals are up 1 per cent and those for multi-units 4 per cent.
HIA’s NSW Executive Director, Wayne Gersbach, said this modest increase had to be put against an overall approval fall of 59 per cent from its 2002 peak. “Obviously, we are not proclaiming a housing-led recovery for the area,” he said.
“However, the figures do show that housing is once again beginning to play a positive role in the Mid North Coast economy. Of course things in NSW will be very much dependant on interest rate movements, but the signs thus far indicate a modest growth in housing activity from now to 2007/08.”
Mr Gersbach said other good news from the housing sector includes a 4 per cent rise in renovation activity in the March quarter, resulting in annual growth of 12 per cent. The contribution of manufacturing and construction to the local economy is around 26 per cent – or $490 million – and likely to remain stable.
“The real ace in the pack for the mid north coast region continues to be its very strong population growth rate, currently at 1.6 per cent, or nearly double the rate of Sydney,” he said. “What is particularly good news is that 62 per cent of the regional population is of working age.”
Reviewing the overall economic picture for Coffs Harbour, he said Gross Regional Product is valued at around $1.3 billion with the local economy experiencing strong growth in retail spending and employment.
“Consumer confidence is high, the retail sector is recovering and while tourism always performs well it is the education and health sectors which have the potential for growth,” he said. “Recent federal and state budget announcements have allowed for increased funding for education facilities which could flow on to the Southern Cross University and North Coast TAFE adding further to local economic growth. Agriculture also remains a strong influence.
“This is all good news for housing. The only downside is that affordability remains the primary reason why the housing industry cannot make a greater contribution.
“The local building industry will strive to meet the challenge of interest rate pressures and high house and land prices, but further assistance from the State Government in the form of relief from taxes and charges would be welcome.”