All-time record set for NZ house building consents

Annual New Zealand housing consents have hit an all-time high, eclipsing figures that date back to a year before World War II broke out.

The number of new homes consented in the year to July 2021 was 45,119 and never since records started in 1938 have so many consents been granted for new homes in this country.

Stats NZ today announced the new record.

Michael Heslop, construction statistics manager, said a much earlier high was 40,025 in the year ended February 1974.

But nothing eclipsed today’s record.

Not since suburbs like Glenfield on Auckland’s North Shore were built have consents been issued for such a lot of new places. Most of those consents are for new homes.

“The annual number of new homes consented first exceeded the 1974 high in the March 2021 year with 41,028,” Heslop said.

Then, in the April 2021 year, it was a record 42,848 consents.

That hit 43,466 consents in the May 2021 year, a further record 44,299 consents in the June 2021 year, and 45,119 consents in the July 2021 year.

The Government has actively encouraged new housing development, with the state-ownedKāinga Ora undertaking a programme to make better use of state land, particularly in Auckland.

Much of the latest consent activity is in Auckland, suffering a critical supply shortage.

The year ended July 2020 included the Covid-19 level 4 lockdown period in late March and April 2020, which disrupted consent issuance across many territorial authorities.

“The annual number of new homes consented rose across the North Island, led by a 29 per cent rise in Auckland in the July 2021 year,” Stats NZ said today. Consents were issued for 19,158 Auckland homes in the year to July.

In Canterbury, the annual number of new homes consented rose 19 per cent, resulting in 6811 homes being consented there.

In Waikato, it was 4751 homes, 2496 homes in the Bay of Plenty, 3269 in Wellington and 2063 in Otago.

Stats NZ noted the latest annual figures didn’t take in the current pandemic lockdown: “The national Covid-19 level 4 lockdown that came into force at 11.59pm on August 17 did not impact these statistics. However, building consents issued by some territorial authorities in August 2021 and future months may be disrupted.”

Chris Darby, chairman of Auckland Council’s planning committee, has welcomed what he called “rocketing dwelling consent numbers”.

Shyamal Maharaj, a council economist, has also noted high consent numbers and their effect on supply.

It was a significant step towards alleviating the housing shortfall, but plenty more work remains, he said.

“While Auckland has had some reprieve from closed borders on housing pressures, this is unlikely to persist once borders open. The reality is Auckland is a highly desirable place to live,” he said.

Multi-units continued to dominate the figures, with around 68 per cent of total dwellings consents being denser development. Townhouses were up 30 per cent over the past year to June and apartments over 215 per cent over the past 12 months.

Ongoing capacity constraints had hit labour and the availability of building materials and there was a growing lag on the ability to turn consents into housing.

But the rise in dwelling consented had closely followed the patterns of house prices, which was to be expected as developers seek commercial opportunities.

Housing policies are starting to see price growth slow, so the question remains if the elevated level of prices are likely to underpin further record growth in consents going forward, Maharaj said.

Kāinga Ora says it is developing a mixture of public, market and affordable homes, including KiwiBuild places.

It has “a range of housing initiatives and programmes underway to boost the supply of new housing for Kiwis. These include housing projects of different sizes and types in New Zealand’s main centres and across the country,” the Crown agency says.

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