Housing approval figures fell 2.2% in January, as planning delays and holding costs continued to hurt the new housing sector according to the Housing Industry Association (HIA). The building industry is unhappy at increased delays within council planning and says the extra cost is making it difficult to provide affordable housing. The overall fall for total approvals was 0.9% for the month. Simon Tennent, executive director of housing and economics at HIA, said that a single undeveloped block of land valued at $70,000 would incur costs of $560 per day, for every month it sits in a council in-tray. "It is outrageous to think that holding costs incurred by the planning and approval quagmire in most states continues to add millions of dollars to even the simplest of residential projects," he said. Approvals were down by 11.3% in Victoria and by 8.9% in Western Australia. Increases were recorded in Tasmania (25.4%), New South Wales (7.9%), Queensland (3.8%) and South Australia (1.9%). Tennant added: "This is not about adding more council staff. This is about streamlining approval processes, as even a one-month improvement in approval times would save the industry and their clients some $100m."

Jan 2007
Dec 2006 to Jan 2007
Jan 2006 to Jan 2007
% change
% change
Total dwelling units approved
Private sector houses
Private sector other dwellings

Source: www.abs.gov.au