Medium Density Approvals Pulling Even With Detached Housing

Medium density approvals

New figures have further illustrated the changes underway in Australia’s housing market, with construction approval figures for medium density housing, such as units and townhouses beginning to rival those for detached dwellings.

According to the Bankwest Housing Density Report, the number of approvals issued for medium density dwelling in the 12 months to November 2015 surged by 33.9% to 115,731.

Over the same period, approvals for detached houses grew by only 1.5% to 115,758.

While approvals for detached houses outstripped those for medium density in the 12 months to November 2015, analysis of figures for the 12 months to October 2015 revealed that medium density housing approval numbers topped detached approval numbers for the first time on an annual basis.

In the 12 months to October 2015 there were 117,552 building approvals for medium density housing compared with 115,634 for detached homes.

While approvals for detached housing did manage a comeback compared to medium density housing, Bankwest general manager for private banking Greg Caust said it is likely that medium, density approvals will soon top detached dwelling approvals on an ongoing basis.

“That 12 month period to October was a record breaker, with the number of medium density dwelling approvals reaching 117,552. I have no doubt medium density approvals will shortly exceed approvals for stand-alone homes – not just occasionally, but on an on-going basis,” Caust said.

“Half the approvals in the 12 months to November 2015 were for medium density housing – up from 43.1% the previous year and well ahead of the average 34.4% over the past 20 years,” he said.

With a number of capital cities seeing a boom in the number of apartments being built in recent years, it’s no surprise where the majority of approvals for new medium density dwellings are located.

According to the Bankwest report, in the year to November 2015, 89.5% of medium density approvals were for dwellings in Australia’s capital cities.

Over the same period, 57.4% of approvals in capital cities were for medium density dwellings compared with 23.1% in regional areas.

Canberra was home to the highest proportion of medium density approvals, with 74.2% of all approvals in the 12-month period for dwellings of that type, followed by Sydney at 69.4% and Brisbane at 64.5%.

While the proliferation of medium density housing may be driven in large part due to affordability issues, Caust said that is important that planning around medium density areas is suitable.

“Medium density housing offers a more affordable alternative to stand-alone housing and may help first time buyers get into the property market – particularly in capital cities,” he said.

“Higher density housing trends may be developing due to affordability issues, however they also mean society is moving toward more sustainable living.

“If urban sprawl is contained, populations will be closer to infrastructure, including health and education services and public transport networks. These services then can be better patronised and more efficient.”



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