SOUTH GIPPSLAND – There was a marked drop off in the number of residential approvals in South Gippsland from the first half of 2021 to the second half typically running at 30 houses-a-month until May but falling below 20 home approvals from June to October 2021


Victorian residential building approvals topped 70,000 in 2021 as the building and construction industry continued to lead the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

And one of the leading lights in regional Victoria was the Bass Coast Shire Council, despite well-publicised problems with the availability of building blocks across the shire.

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed that the number of new residential building approvals in Bass Coast, from November 2020 to October 2021 hit a 930 in total with 895 in houses and 35 townhouses.

It compared favourably with the so-called metro-fringe growth area of Baw Baw, including Drouin and Warragul, where there were 1055 residential projects approved, including 992 houses, a figure that’s less than 100 below what was achieved in Bass Coast.

Residential approvals in the other four Gippsland LGAs paled into insignificance as follows: South Gippsland 302, Latrobe 578, Wellington 401 and East Gippsland 541.

Interestingly enough, the latest ABS figures show a marked drop off in the number of residential approvals in South Gippsland, across the 12 months from November 2020 to October 2021 with approvals typically running at 30 houses-a-month between November and May but then falling below 20-a-month on average from June to October 2021 as follows: June 18, July 20, August 23 houses +2 townhouses, September 21 and October 12 residential approvals.

But Bass Coast not so much.

Bass Coast was consistent right through the year as follows: November 79 houses + 2 townhouses, December 73+2, January 48, February 81+5. March 91+3, April 80, May 71, June 82, July 66+2, August 80, September 75 and October 61.

According to a statement by Master Builders Victoria this week, Victorian new residential building approvals returned to pre-pandemic levels.

MBV CEO Rebecca Casson said Victoria passed 70,463 new residential building approvals in the 12 months to November 2021 – the highest level for three years.

“Our state has not seen yearly residential building approval totals exceed 70,000 since 2018,” Ms Casson said.

“This demonstrates high levels of confidence and demand from the private sector as Victorians began to emerge out of lockdowns and into some form of normality.”

Ms Casson said the proportion of building approvals for multi-unit buildings had picked up slightly from the previous month, accounting for 31 per cent of all building approvals in the 12 months to November 2021.

With international borders re-opening, Ms Casson said we could expect to see steady growth in Victoria’s population as we enter 2022, further influencing the positive growth of multi-unit building approvals.

“Victoria’s building and construction industry continues to play a large part in supporting our state’s population and economy,” Ms Casson said.

“It is evident that the building and construction industry is important to the overall health of the Victorian and national economy.

“Recent GDP data indicated that during the September 2021 quarter, Australia’s economy shrank by 1.9 per cent, reflecting the effects of lockdowns in Victoria and NSW.

“However, residential building has been one of the strongest parts of the economy and expanded by 11.4 per cent over the last year.

“During the September 2021 quarter, non-residential construction was one of the best performers and grew by 3.9 per cent.

“These figures demonstrate how important it was for our industry to largely remain open during lockdowns and how our sector will continue to act as a springboard for other sectors to get back on their feet.”

Victoria saw 64,785 building approval works completed in the 2020-21 financial year, generating $25.7 billion of work in the 12 months to September 2021. Non-residential work and civil construction work completed in the 12 months to September 2021 was valued at $14.1 billion and $18.7 billion, respectively.

Ms Casson said building and construction work completed was equivalent to 12.05 per cent of the Victorian economy as of the 2020-21 financial year. In addition to this, the construction industry supports 113,867 businesses, of which 98.8 per cent are classed as small businesses employing less than 20 employees.

This is an increase of 5,319 businesses since 1 July 2020.

“Our industry is the fourth largest employer across Victoria, providing 9.3 per cent of total employment,” Ms Casson said.

“In full-time terms, our contribution is more significant, as we are the second-largest full-time employer providing 11.6 per cent of full-time jobs in the state, a close second to professional, scientific and technical services (11.8 per cent).”

Housing approvals in Bass Coast remained consistent through to October 2021, indicating demand for new housing will continue into 2022, provided that enough affordable new blocks can be found.