1 Nov 2012

Building consent numbers up

9:51 am on 1 November 2012

Building consent numbers rose strongly last month, driven by large increases in the areas with the biggest housing shortages, Auckland and Christchurch.

However, Radio New Zealand's economics correspondent says the consents issued in Auckland are still well short of the numbers needed to keep up with the growing population.

Statistics New Zealand says councils issued 1540 consents for new dwellings in September, up nearly 8% from August, and 22% on September last year.

Auckland led the way with 458 consents, up from 378 in August and 306 the previous September.

On an annualised basis, however, the numbers of consents issued there is still less than half the 12,000 - 13,000 estimated to be needed to keep up with population growth.

A total of 154 consents were issued in Christchurch in September, up from 135 in August, and 85 the same month a year ago.

Outside of those regions, activity is much more subdued, constrained by a sluggish labour market and subdued economic recovery.

Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon says the figures suggest a steady pickup in building activity, led by Auckland and Christchurch.

He says the pick up has been in the outer Canterbury region, rather than Christchurch itself where the process is several months further behind.

Mr Gordon says in Auckland the situation has been somewhat variable, but the numbers provide further reassurance that things are on track.

He says higher house prices, population growth and low mortgage rates should spur a sustained rise in consents.