Esperance building approvals drop

Current figures have revealed building applications in Esperance have decreased, prompting the state’s Building Association to appeal to the state government for economic assistance.

Despite being a third of the way through the 2018/19 financial year, 100 building applications have been approved at a value of $4.39 million – half the total value submitted this time last year.

Figures suggest just 27 applications for new dwellings could be made this financial year, less than a third of the number made in 2014/15.

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Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott said the decrease reflected a nationwide decline in building activity and the shire would advocate for any interventions aimed at boosting regional economies.

“The decrease in building applications in Esperance is reflective of a state and nationwide decline in the level of building activity,” he said.

“Any decrease of this type is disappointing as we would like to see the Esperance economy stronger and our population increasing, however this needs to see additional employment options becoming available to attract and retain people in Esperance.

“The number of applications received each year can be attributed to a number of demographic and financial factors.

Downturn: Yearly approved building statistics as of late October, 2018. Photo: Shire of Esperance.

Downturn: Yearly approved building statistics as of late October, 2018. Photo: Shire of Esperance.

“The current restrictions on bank lending practices is potentially one of the largest single influences at present, with a tough financial market throughout Australia, people are more inclined to reduce their spending, this includes holding off on building new homes.

“Esperance has been fortunate to avoid some of the larger financial swings seen in some smaller regions and the subsequent reduction in employment.

“Council have endorsed Local Planning Scheme 24 which supports a wider range of development and will accommodate potential new investment opportunities, it has also ensured suitably zoned land for housing.

“The matters Council can address, such as availability of suitably zoned land for housing and for developments that will create the local jobs needed to drive population growth have been addressed by this Council.”

Despite statistics indicating a quiet economy, Mr Scott said strong tourism growth, the recommencement of iron ore export and the proposed Munglinup Graphite mine were favourable factors looking forward.

Master Builders Goldfields Esperance Regional manager Doug Backhouse said the decrease was apparent and Esperance were not alone.

“Based on the monthly reports, we’re definitely seeing a decrease in housing approvals for this financial year compared to last,” he said.

“There is a serious downturn in the building industry and housing approvals.”

Any decrease of this type is disappointing as we would like to see the Esperance economy stronger and our population increasing,

Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott.

Master Builders Executive director John Gelavis called on the state government to consider a stimulus package to support residential builders in the 2019 budget and a $5,000 boost to the First Home Buyers Grant – a move he said would be well-received in regional towns doing it tough.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the boost was not an effective way to assist in the market given the market conditions.

“The boost is simply not an effective way for the state to assist in the market and in order to repair the financial situation we inherited we need to remove any ineffective spending,” he said.

“The First Home Buyers Grant is simply not an effective way to assist those from entering the market given the current conditions of the market.

“Our action saved WA taxpayers $20 million dollars over the forward estimates, that is money that can be directed towards higher priority areas or simply towards reducing the record level of debt we inherited.

“The McGowan Government though remains committed to the housing industry which is why we have announced the METRONET Social and Affordable and Jobs Package and the Affordable Housing Action Plan at the last budget.”