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Characteristics of apartment approvals
The number of new apartments approved surged between 2012 and 2018, driven by a large rise in four or more storey developments in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. However, in the 2018-19 financial year, apartment approvals fell to a six-year low.
This article examines characteristics of the number of new apartments approved in the 15-year period from the 2004-05 financial year to the 2018-19 financial year. Apartments 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). Data includes both private and public developments.
Data are presented for 'flats, units and apartments', collectively referred to as apartments in this article; 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).
Since the peak of the apartment approval boom in 2015-16, there have been large falls in approvals for all apartment heights:
Despite the falls from the peak of the apartment boom, in 2018/19 there were 46,110 dwellings approved in apartment developments, consistent with the 15-year average of 46,420 dwellings.
Graph 3: Apartments approved by number of storeys, Australia - 2004/05 to 2018/19
Major state summary
On average, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland make up 80% of the total dwelling approvals across Australia and 86.3% of all apartment approvals. However, the composition of apartment types was not similar across the states. New South Wales was the nation’s leader in mid-rise approvals; while Victoria had the most high-rise construction.
Graph 4: Apartments approved by number of storeys, New South Wales - 2004/05 to 2018/19
New South Wales recorded 275,048 apartment approvals between 2004-05 to 2018-19, the highest of any state. Of these, 131,543 (47.8%) were in 4-8 storey buildings.
Approvals in 4-8 storey apartment buildings peaked in 2015-16, when 17,420 dwellings were approved. This represented over half of all apartment developments (50.5%). While still the most common apartment building type in New South Wales, the slowdown in apartment demand has led to a fall in mid-rise developments, with only 9,601 approved in 2018-19, representing a total fall of 44.9% in three years.
Of the three major states, New South Wales had the second-highest amount of super high-rise apartment approvals (34,955), but the lowest proportion, comprising just 12.7% of all apartment approvals.
Graph 5: Apartments approved by number of storeys, Victoria - 2004/05 to 2018/19
Victoria recorded 192,735 apartment approvals between 2004-05 to 2018-19. Of these, the largest proportion were in 4-8 storey buildings, comprising 36.5% of all apartments approved.
Victoria had the nation’s greatest proportion of super high-rise (20+ storey) apartment approvals, with 55,418 approved (28.8% of the state’s total apartment approvals). Apartment approvals in super high-rises peaked in 2017-18, at 8,836 dwellings. In 2017-18, 39.8% of apartment approvals were for super high-rise developments. This figure fell back close to the average in 2018-19 (to 29.5%), when 3,664 apartments were approved. This represented a year-on-year fall of 58.5% for super high-rise apartment approvals in Victoria.
Graph 6: Apartments approved by number of storeys, Queensland - 2004/05 to 2018/19
Queensland recorded 132,790 apartment approvals between 2004-05 to 2018-19. Approvals were more balanced across the four apartment categories, when compared to New South Wales and Victoria. Apartments in a 4-8 storey development were the most common, comprising 31.7% (42,086 dwellings) of all apartments approved. This was followed by 1-3 storey approvals with 34,230 approved (25.8%), 9-19 storeys with 31,526 (23.7%), and 20+ storeys with 24,948 (18.8%).
Queensland experienced an unprecedented apartment boom between 2014-15 and 2015-16, when 34,134 apartments were approved in two years. However, apartment developments have since declined, particularly for high-rise and super high-rise apartments. Only 2,427 high-rise and super high-rise apartments were approved in 2018-19, down from the peak in 2015-16, when 10,111 were approved. This represented a 76.0% decrease in high-rise and super high-rise developments in three years, the largest proportionate fall amongst the three major states.
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