The release by the ABS of the April regional building approvals data is best seen through the lens of the Conus Trend. In April we saw the ABS Trend for residential approvals in Queensland up by 5.6% for the year (see here for details). When we consider the Conus Trend split across the state we see that the increases are almost all coming from Greater Brisbane where Trend approvals are up 8% for the year in the Rest of Queensland the increase is a far less impressive 2.4% (and this even with some very lumpy unit approvals hitting the books this month in Cairns…see below).
Looking at the SA4 regions in the North we see Cairns jumped to 157 (and increase of 60.5% from a year ago), but this needs to be taken with a large dose of salt. We have been waiting for some time for the approvals of the units in the new Nova City development to hit the books and it would appear that they have finally done so in April. The original data for April leapt from 72 approvals in March to 406 in April! Obviously this has a significant impact on the Trend estimates (both this month and in the form of revisions to back-months) but it is an impact that is likely to quickly wash-out of the data.
In Townsville Trend approvals fell again to 63 which is 22.4% lower than a year ago. There is certainly no sign of the slide in Townsville turning around anytime soon.
When we take a look at the Local Government Area level the Nova City impact is even more dramatic for Cairns Regional Council (incl Douglas Shire) which saw Trend approvals spike to 119 (an increase of 114.6% from the same time a year ago). The words of caution expressed above need to be held in mind. The Cassowary Coast Regional Council remained largely stable with Trend approvals at 7 (up just 7.3% from a year ago) while the Tablelands Regional Council (incl Mareeba Shire) was also stable at 25 (but still up 37.9% from a year ago). Townsville City Council saw Trend approvals static at 55 which is a decline of 28.6% since last year.
The complete data set for Conus Trend Regional Building Approvals is available for download below. Please feel free to use this data (for non-commercial purposes) but we would appreciate you acknowledging Conus when you do so.