New home construction in the Bega Valley Shire has taken a downward spiral each year from 2010 onwards.
In 2010 the council approved 223 new dwellings, this dropped to 215 in 2011, a further fall in 2012 to 190 and the downward trend continued in 2013 to a low 169 approvals.
Tura Beach and more recently Mirador Estate have been the hub of new home construction for many years but a recent tour of both areas by the News Weekly showed activity more muted than in the past – about half a dozen homes were under construction at Mirador and about five at Tura Beach.
Asked for a comment about the downward trend, Councillor Kristy McBain said: “The figures do show a drop in new home dwelling approvals but I note that other building is still progressing as it has in other years.”
“In my opinion this may be due to the global financial crisis which had a large impact on superannuation balances and thus may have impacted on retirees coming to the area,” Cr McBain said
“We can all see the start of a resurgence in the building industry at the moment with many new homes appearing in Mirador and Tura Beach. The demographic is also changing somewhat with many young couples and families building instead of buying homes.”
Cr McBain said that the process for obtaining development approval from the council needs to be made as simple and as streamlined as possible.
“We are working towards this with the introduction of an online survey that will help customers know whether their development is exempt, complying or whether it requires a DA.”
Tony Gordon, of Hotondo Homes Merimbula, said that the company had seen year–on-year growth since the local franchise was established seven years ago.
“Our business has grown consistently every year and enquiry levels have stayed strong.”
But Mr Gordon recognised that the shire’s home building industry had suffered in the last three years.
However he is optimistic about its prospects saying predictions for the next 18 months looked positive.
Mr Gordon said that the company’s data base indicated the high level of enquiry was translating into orders but they were not yet ready for lodgement with the council.
The News Weekly contacted a number of independent builders, none of whom were prepared to speak on the record. However it was evident from their remarks that that the building industry poses “a very difficult scenario” for many of its members with little hope of a return to the days when the industry was very active.
A building supplier, who also did not want to be named, said there had definitely been a downturn in business turnover in the past five years.
He said that was largely attributable to changing building dynamics which had seen the growth and success of project home builders in the area. “Seventy-five per cent of homes being built today are by project home builders. They buy their supplies direct and this affects independent suppliers.”