8752.0 - Building Activity, Australia, Dec 2019 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/04/2020   
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Telling stories - Apartment building heights

Introduction

Approvals for new apartments have significantly increased in Australia in recent years, predominantly driven by apartment buildings with four or more storeys. The number of dwellings approved in four or more storey apartment buildings rose from 29,695 in the 2012-13 financial year to a peak of 72,258 in the 2015-16 financial year, but are now beginning to fall, with 41,146 dwellings approved in the 2018-19 financial year (see Building Approvals, Australia (cat. no. 8731.0) for more information).

This article explores the changes in the number of apartments commenced and approved but not yet commenced between the 2004-05 financial year and the 2018-19 financial year. To better explore these changes, these have been split into four categories: low rise (1 to 3 storeys), medium rise (4 to 8 storeys), high rise (9 to 19 storeys), and super high rise (20 or more storeys). This article provides an update to the previous article released in the December 2018 issue of this publication.

Apartments are defined as blocks of dwellings that don't have their own private grounds and usually share a common entrance, foyer or stairwell. For further information refer to Functional Classification of Buildings, 1999 (Revision 2011) (cat. no. 1268.0.55.001).

The data presented is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) quarterly publication Building Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8752.0). Data presented in this article are available in the 'Building Activity: Number of storeys' data cube on the downloads tab.


Apartments commenced

Australia
Apartment commencements have surged in the past 15 years, rising by 81.7% from 2004-05 to 2018-19 (see Graph 1). The composition of apartments has changed over this 15 year period, with increases in the number of medium (95.1%, 11,680 dwellings), high (152.8%, 7,814 dwellings) and super high rise (360.8%, 8,267 dwellings) apartments commenced, while low rise commencements have decreased 46.0% (4,214 dwellings).

There has been a fall in the number of apartments commenced in the most recent financial year (2018-19), which was strongest across super high (-41.2%, 7,404 dwellings) and high rise (-25.8%, 4,488 dwellings) apartments, with smaller percentage falls in medium (-16.4%, 4,710 dwellings) and low rise (-16.6%, 981 dwellings) apartments.


Graph 1: Number of dwellings commenced in low rise, medium rise, high rise, and super high rise apartment buildings, Australia

Graph 1: Number of dwellings commenced in low rise, medium rise, high rise, and super high rise apartment buildings, Australia



Medium rise apartments in NSW, Vic. and Qld
Medium rise apartments accounted for the highest number of dwelling commencements over the entire 15 year period. New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland have collectively accounted for 86.7% of all apartment commencements in medium rise apartment buildings over this period. Graph 2 illustrates the change in the number of dwelling commencements in medium rise apartment buildings for New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland.

Between 2004-05 and 2018-19, New South Wales had the highest number of dwellings commenced in medium rise apartment buildings (128,051 dwellings), followed by Victoria (69,549 dwellings) and Queensland (41,594 dwellings).

The highest rate of growth in the number of dwelling commencements in medium rise apartments was recorded in Victoria (189.8%, 3,601 dwellings), due to starting from such a low base in 2004-05 (1,897 dwellings). While New South Wales had a smaller percentage increase (+110.9%), it had the largest growth in terms of number of dwellings (+6,852 dwellings).


Graph 2: Number of dwellings commenced in medium rise apartment buildings in NSW, Vic. and Qld

Graph 2: Number of dwellings commenced in medium rise apartment buildings in NSW, Vic. and Qld



High rise and super high rise apartments in NSW, Vic. and Qld

New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland are the primary drivers of change in the number of dwelling commencements for high and super high rise apartment buildings. These three states collectively account for 90.3% of all high and super high rise apartment commencements in Australia between 2004-05 and 2018-19. The changes in high and super high rise commencements for these three states are depicted in Graph 3.

Over the 15 year period between 2004-05 and 2018-19, New South Wales had the highest number of dwelling commencements in high and super high rise apartment buildings (96,648 dwellings), followed by Victoria (88,937 dwellings) and Queensland ( 55,818 dwellings). New South Wales also recorded the highest increase in the number of dwelling commencements for high and super high rise apartment buildings (436.9%, 7,747 dwellings). Victoria experienced an increase of 428.8% (5,793 dwellings) and Queensland an increase of 37.2% (959 dwellings).


Graph 3: Number of dwellings commenced in high and super high rise apartment buildings in NSW, Vic. and Qld
Graph 3: Number of dwellings commenced in high and super high rise apartment buildings in NSW, Vic. and Qld




Apartments approved but not yet commenced

In Australia, the pipeline of dwellings approved but not yet commenced in medium, high, and super high rise apartment buildings has increased from the 2004-05 financial year end to the 2018-19 financial year end. The number of dwellings approved but not yet commenced in low rise apartment buildings has decreased over this period. Graph 4 depicts the changes in the total number of dwellings approved but not yet commenced in the four types of apartment buildings between the end of the 2004-05 financial year and the end of the 2018-19 financial year.

The highest rate of growth in the number of dwellings approved but not yet commenced was recorded for high rise apartments (456.5%, 4,336 dwellings) followed by super high rise apartments (277.6%, 3,942 dwellings) and medium rise apartments (217.5%, 4,670 dwellings). The number of dwellings approved but not yet commenced in low rise apartments has fallen by 19.2% (382 dwellings).

There has been a fall in the number of dwellings approved but not yet commenced in the most recent financial year (ending June 2019), with falls across low rise (-29.5%, -674 dwellings), high rise (-25.1%, -1,773 dwellings), super high rise (-22.9%, -1,594 dwellings) and medium rise (-22.5%, -1,980 dwellings) apartments.

Graph 4: Number of dwellings approved but not yet commenced in low rise, medium rise, high rise, and super high rise apartment buildings, Australia
Graph 4: Number of dwellings approved but not yet commenced in low rise, medium rise, high rise, and super high rise apartment buildings, Australia