National, state & territory level dwelling demolition approvals

Preliminary data on the number of dwelling demolitions approved at national, state and territory levels, June 2016 quarter to March 2021 quarter


The ABS is interested in receiving feedback from users on the suitability of these preliminary data and the potential for producing ongoing quarterly estimates beyond 2022. If you have any feedback, please email

Key statistics

  • There were a total of 107,294 dwellings approved to be demolished in the five years to the March 2021 quarter.
  • 95.1% of all dwellings approved to be demolished were houses.
  • Over the past five years, the March 2021 quarter had the largest number of dwelling demolition approvals (6,140).
  • The states recording the largest numbers of dwellings approved to be demolished were Victoria (37,102) and New South Wales (28,499).

In the five year period from the June 2016 quarter to the March 2021 quarter, there have been 107,294 dwellings approved to be demolished in Australia. The quarter with the lowest number of dwellings approved to be demolished was the March 2020 quarter (4,721 dwellings), coinciding with the lowest quarter for new dwelling approvals over the same five year period. The quarter with the highest number of dwellings approved to be demolished was the March 2021 quarter (6,140 dwellings), followed by the December 2020 quarter (5,940 dwellings).

Types of dwellings approved to be demolished, June 2016 quarter to March 2021 quarter
StateHousesOther residentialTotal
New South Wales27,0761,42328,499
South Australia11,96959612,565
Western Australia11,47872112,199
Northern Territory29029319
Australian Capital Territory2,2224972,719

Houses were the most common type of dwelling approved to be demolished, representing 95.1%. New South Wales had the highest proportion of houses approved to be demolished (95.0%); the Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportion of other residential dwellings approved to be demolished (18.3%).

Dwelling demolitions approved for every 1,000 new dwelling approvals ('the demolition approval rate') increased from 91 in the June 2016 quarter to 109 in the March 2021 quarter. The lowest quarter was the September 2016 quarter with 82, while the highest quarter was the September 2020 quarter with 122. 

Dwelling demolitions approved per 1,000 new dwelling approvals, June 2016 quarter to March 2021 quarter
StateDwelling demolitions approvedNew dwellings approvedDemolition approval rate*
New South Wales28,499312,49691
South Australia12,56560,141209
Western Australia12,19992,956131
Northern Territory3194,03179
Australian Capital Territory2,71927,51999

*Demolition approval rate is the number of dwelling demolitions approved for every 1,000 new dwelling approvals.

Over the five year period, there were 104 dwelling demolitions approved for every 1,000 new dwelling approvals in Australia. South Australia was the state with the highest demolition approval rate (209), followed by Western Australia (131) and Victoria (113). Tasmania had the lowest rate with 32 dwelling demolition approvals for every 1,000 new dwellings approved. The demolition approval rate can be influenced by a number of factors including land availability, age of housing stock, population growth and population density.

States and territories

In New South Wales, there were 28,499 dwellings approved to be demolished in the five year period. From the March 2020 quarter to the March 2021 quarter, there was a 76.0% increase in dwelling demolition approvals for the state. The March 2021 quarter was the state's highest quarter with 1,845 dwellings approved to be demolished.

In Victoria, there were 37,102 dwellings approved to be demolished in the five year period. The highest quarter was the December 2017 quarter with 2,118 dwelling demolitions approved. During 2020, Victoria saw its demolitions fall to 1,646 approvals in the September quarter. It subsequently rose 17.4% to the March 2021 quarter.

In Queensland, there were 13,401 dwellings approved to be demolished in the five year period. In 2020, Queensland recorded a demolition low of 513 approvals in the June 2020 quarter. In the subsequent quarter, dwelling demolition approvals increased by 53.0% and the state recorded a high of 785.

In South Australia, there were 12,565 dwellings approved to be demolished in the five year period. Similar to Queensland, South Australia recorded a significant increase after the June 2020 quarter. This resulted in South Australia's highest quarter with 845 dwelling demolition approvals after a 56.2% increase to the September 2020 quarter.

In Western Australia, there were 12,199 dwellings approved to be demolished in the five year period. During 2020, demolitions fell to a low of 513 approvals. After a 61.6% increase to the December 2020 quarter, Western Australia recorded a high of 829 dwellings approved to be demolished.

In the five years to the March 2021 quarter, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory had 490, 319 and 2,719 dwellings approved to be demolished respectively. Quarterly spikes in these jurisdictions are often caused by large public housing redevelopment projects.


About this release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is working towards the development of quarterly estimates of small area dwelling stock, completions and demolitions for release in 2022. Dwelling stock statistics (the total number of dwellings in a given area at a point in time) are currently available from the Census of Population and Housing every five years. More frequent estimates of dwelling stock are valuable for economic and housing policy development and evaluation, and informing planning and service provision decisions. The newly developed statistics will contain quarterly estimates of demolitions, completions and stock at Local Government Area (LGA) and Statistical Area 2 (SA2) level from July 2016 onwards.

Removals from stock are currently a key data gap. To reduce this gap, this article presents preliminary data on the number of dwellings approved for demolition at state and territory level from the June 2016 quarter to the March 2021 quarter. The data has been sourced from the existing Building Approvals collection, and therefore only includes dwellings which have been approved to be fully demolished by a local council or approving authority (see 'Scope and coverage' below for more information). This article follows the release of small area dwelling demolition approvals for New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland from the August 2020 edition of Building Approvals, Australia.

The data does not represent actual demolitions taking place (i.e. it does not account for demolitions that were approved but did not go ahead, or for the time lag between approval and actual demolition). The ABS is developing a method to estimate 'realised' demolitions (i.e. the dwelling approved for demolition is actually demolished) and investigating ways to account for other removals from stock that do not require approval (see 'Future work' for more information). 

Quarterly additions to stock (dwelling completions) are currently available at state level in the ABS publication Building Activity, Australia. The ABS is developing a method to model these estimates down to SA2 level. Experimental small area dwelling completions were released with the June 2020 edition of Building Activity, Australia.

Scope and coverage

Approvals of dwelling demolitions have been sourced from the ABS' Building Approvals collection. This is a monthly administrative collection that compiles statistics of building work approved from:

  • permits issued by local government authorities and other certifying authorities;
  • contracts and work authorised by commonwealth, state and local government authorities; and
  • major building approvals in areas not subject to normal administrative approval, such as building on remote mine sites.

The statistics compiled from this collection are published monthly in Building Approvals, Australia and are classified to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), 2016 Edition.

The scope of the Building Approvals collection includes all residential building work valued at $10,000 or more and all non-residential building work valued at $50,000 or more and comprises:

  • construction of new buildings;
  • alterations and additions to existing buildings;
  • approved non-structural renovation and refurbishment work; and
  • approved installation of integral building fixtures.

For the purpose of collecting demolition approvals, the scope has been extended to include full demolitions of existing dwellings regardless of the value of the work. Approval authorities were formally requested to begin submitting demolition approvals to the ABS in July 2018. Where necessary, dwelling demolitions approved from 2016 onwards were also requested. 

ABS building statistics (building approvals, building activity and the dwelling stock series currently under development) classify buildings according to the Functional Classification of Buildings. This defines a dwelling as a self-contained suite of rooms, including cooking and bathing facilities intended for long-term residential use. Regardless of whether they are self-contained or not, rooms within buildings offering institutional care (e.g. hospitals) or temporary accommodation (e.g. motels, hostels and holiday apartments) are not defined as dwellings. This differs from the definition used by the Census (a structure which is intended to have people live in it, and which is habitable on Census night), which can include non-permanent structures such as caravans, houseboats and tents, as well as communal or transitory accommodation such as cabins, hotels, prisons and hospitals.

A dwelling demolition is defined as the complete and intentional dismantling of a dwelling, such that none of the structure remains on site. The scope of the data does not include:

  • dwellings demolished without approval;
  • dwellings partially demolished;
  • dwellings destroyed by natural disasters; or
  • dwellings rendered inhabitable by extreme weather events, vandalism, fire damage, modification etc. (except where approval has been granted for the demolition of the remainder of a damaged dwelling).

Data are presented for the following types of dwellings:

  • 'Houses' - defined as detached buildings used for long term residential purposes, consisting of only one dwelling unit and are not a result of alterations or additions to a pre-existing building
  • ‘Other residential’ – defined as dwellings that are attached to other dwellings in some structural way

Data for new dwellings approved used in this article have been taken from the April 2021 edition of Building Approvals, Australia.

Future work

The ABS is working towards producing estimates of the number of dwellings demolished at SA2 and LGA for release in 2022. This will involve:

  • working closely with local councils and state and territory government agencies to improve the quality and completeness of demolition approval information. Where this information is not available or not feasible to collect (i.e. some approval authorities have system limitations in collecting or reporting this information), the ABS will investigate statistical modelling methods and other possible auxiliary data sources to account for missing data or unapproved demolitions. 
  • developing a method to estimate the likelihood that a demolition approval is realised (i.e. the dwelling approved for demolition is actually demolished) and the time lag between demolition approval and actual demolition. Possible data sources that assess whether a demolition has occurred include commencements of new buildings from the Building Activity collection and aerial imagery. 

The ABS is also investigating data sources to capture other reductions in dwelling stock (i.e. dwellings destroyed in natural disasters). However, work so far has indicated that there are a number of logistical challenges associated with the collection of this data, and therefore they will be difficult to incorporate into quarterly dwelling stock estimates in a timely way. 

Data downloads

Dwelling demolition approvals by state and territory

Back to top of the page