Illawarra Shoalhaven Wollongong
New South Wales’ Illawarra Shoalhaven region, which includes picturesque Wollongong, will require a boost to dwelling approvals in order to meet high future demand. Image – Canva
  • Approvals peaked in 2019
  • 58,000 new builds are needed by 2036, says a revised government plan
  • Housing for essential workers in particular is needed

The latest data reflects mixed dwelling approval results in the Illawarra Shoalhaven, as the area contends with growing housing prices and a constrained market.

The research was conducted by GYDE Consulting, commissioned by the Property Council of Australia.

Dwelling approvals fall short of demand projections

The Property Council’s Illawarra Regional Director, Michelle Guido, said the region saw significant growth in dwelling approvals over the last 20 years.

Approvals reached their peak in 2019 before declining again in 2020, following a period of recovery this year.

“The Illawarra Shoalhaven is tracking well to meet housing targets at the moment, however we can’t afford to take our foot off the pedal, with increasing demand we need to continue supporting the delivery of diverse types of housing right across the region.”

Michelle Guido, The Property Council

According to Ms Guido, projections made by the Department of Planning in 2019 advised nearly 24,000 new builds would be necessary for Wollongong between 2016 and 2036.

In the five-year period between 2016 and 2021, approximately 5,000 dwellings were constructed, failing to reach the 6,350 dwelling target.

“Over the past 10 years, multi-unit approvals have dominated the Wollongong market – totalling 6,300 dwellings. Detached housing approvals were almost as strong, accounting for 5,483 dwellings in total.

She added that detached houses are the favoured dwelling type across all local government areas of the Illawarra Shoalhaven region, with the exception of Wollongong where apartments are most prominent.

“In the region, 30-40% of houses have 3-bedrooms and over 30% have 4-bedrooms. Wollongong is again the exception, where 50% of housing is 2-bedroom apartments.”

Ms Guido said that while the region is seeing steady housing completions, volumes are still below the five-year requirement.

PCA welcomes more government support

Ms Guido advocated for increased government support to deliver housing critical for the future, particularly in the Shoalhaven where housing for essential workers is in high demand.

“With the Nowra/Bomaderry greenfield areas set to boom over the coming years, more needs to be done by the NSW Government in the short term to support the delivery of housing for key workers,” she said.

“Right across the region, there are housing supply shortages in both the buyers and renters’ markets and housing completions are not as high as we would like to see them so we need all the support we can get from the NSW Government to support local councils to deliver the critical housing and infrastructure we need.”

Updated Regional Plan places region on track

In November 2015, the release of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Regional Plan provided a vision for a productive and innovative future of the region.

An updated version of the plan, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Regional Plan 2041, was then unveiled earlier this year.

The revised plan determined a need for 58,000 new dwellings, a significant jump from original projections in 2015.

The new target brings the yearly requirement to 2,300 dwellings between 2016 and 2041.

As the region had completed an average of 2,300 new homes per year for the last five years, the data points positively to Illawarra Shoalhaven ability to meet demand provided that dwelling approvals continue on this trajectory.

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