Monday, October 4, 2010

Sky the limit for building

MORE than 20 per cent of all new homes approved in Victoria this financial year have been in high-rise apartments, as Melbourne's population boom is making it build up as well as out.

In a dramatic shift in favour of higher-density developments, almost 40 per cent of new homes approved in the state in the first two months of 2010-11 have been either high or medium-density.

This has climbed from just 15 per cent in the 1980s as little as 8 per cent in some years as developers and governments have responded to buyers' desire to live closer to the city.

In Melbourne alone, almost half of new dwellings approved this financial year have been apartments, units, terrace houses or other high or medium-density housing.

Councils in the greater metropolitan area have approved 4702 traditional detached houses, and 4026 apartments, units and terrace houses.

It's a dramatic shift from the 1980s and early '90s, when 85 per cent of homes built in Melbourne were detached houses on a block of their own. In the '90s recession, high-rise construction ground to a halt.

But in the past decade it has taken on a new life, especially in and around the CBD. Almost a third of new housing in the metropolitan area in the 2000s was on shared blocks. And in 2009-10, three in every eight homes were some form of medium or high density.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics does not publish figures for approvals for high-rise units defined as apartment blocks of four storeys or more in cities. But in the year to June, 7590 high-rise apartment units were approved in Victoria, almost the highest level on record. They made up 14 per cent of the state's new dwellings, compared with 5 per cent in the '90s. Yet in the first two months of 2010-11, this has risen to one in every five new dwellings in the state.

If you assume they're in Melbourne, then one in four new homes approved in the city so far this year is in a high-rise apartment block.