Dwelling approvals dwindling

DEVELOPMENT on the Fraser Coast has plummeted, having a $759 million knock-on effect to other sectors of the local economy and diminishing jobs in the last quarter by an estimated more than nine per cent.

“There are some alarming trends,” local Urban Development Institute president Daniel Poacher said yesterday.

“To the year ended June '09 new dwelling approvals dropped to 790 compared with 1134 for the same period last year.

“To March '09 565 residential lots were approved, equating to a decrease of 12.8 per cent for the same period last year.

“And land sales on the Coast dropped from 1162 to 525 for the year to June '09.”

Mr Poacher said the council needed to take a lead role on economic development.

“Given that our region is predicted to grow from a population of 96,000 to around 120,000 by 2016 and about 150,000 in 2031, we need to provide a high level of good development.”

Councillor Gerard O'Connell said the community wanted the council to foster “a good, balanced sustainable development regime”.

“I don't hear people saying they don't want the benefits of development.

“Too often the argument is minimised by saying the development sector involves out-of-towners dividing up blocks into parcels, selling them off and leaving town. But this is a misconception.

“My overriding mantra is that development involves all of us because we are all beneficiaries of good development.”

Mr Poacher added: “We also need to supply a range of affordable living supported by a strong business community and employment opportunities without neglecting crucial issues like our environment and the social infrastructure we need here.”

He said that in 2007-2008 the development industry here had a turnover of $1.25 billion and nurtured 5300 full-time positions.

“Every $1 million turnover equates to $600,000 in gross regional product, $84,000 in state and federal taxes and 4.2 fulltime jobs.

“We've certainly seen a severe downturn since then.”

Mr O'Connell said the council needed to work with the UDIA.

“They are not the enemy.”

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