Media Archive / Today’s ABS Building Approvals data shows lowest number of approvals in over a decade

Today’s ABS Building Approvals data shows lowest number of approvals in over a decade

Today’s Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows new building approvals have declined in New South Wales for the seventh consecutive month, meaning NSW is yet to turn the corner on our housing crisis and is trending backwards on our obligations under the National Housing Accord targets before they even start in July this year.

“Building approvals are a fundamental aspect of housing development, and an important indicator of the future pipeline. Today’s data shows that this crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better,” said Gavin Melvin, Acting CEO, UDIA NSW.

With just 44,300 approvals in 2023, this is the lowest number of approvals for any calendar year since 2012. It reaffirms the ongoing challenges the industry faced in 2023 and puts even greater importance on the new housing reforms announced by the NSW Government to be successful in unlocking a wave of new housing applications.


“Today’s data shows building approvals decreased 17% annually in 2023, and are 42% below the state’s peak of 76,800 rolling annual approvals in September 2016. With development feasibilities under immense pressure due to rising construction costs and development costs, the Government needs to work closely with industry to ensure each new policy reform it has announced is carefully implemented to unlock the maximum number of new homes possible and not whittled away at the margins,” said Mr Melvin.

The continued decline in approvals is not specific to any one building type, but is being felt across the entire housing continuum as can be seen in the graph above.

Key Facts

In the 2023 calendar year, the state saw:

  • 22,000 approvals for new detached homes (the lowest since January 2014).
  • 10,200 approvals for new medium density products i.e., semi-detached dwellings, and <4 storey apartments (21% decline annually).
  • 12,100 approvals for new apartment units i.e., dwellings in >4 storey apartment buildings (67% below its September 2016 peak).

As the Premier noted in his recent comments, our journey to deliver NSW’s five year Housing Accord targets begins from a historically low base. With it taking many years for an apartment project to move from approval to completion, it is impossible for us to achieve the average of 75,000 new home target from year one.

Our challenge this year is to double the current number of development approvals to put us on the right path to deliver in excess of 75,000 new homes a year in the last three years of the Accord period. That’s why we need to closely monitor the uptake of the Government’s new policies and be willing to revise them if they are not generating the results we need.

“The industry is committed to continuing to work in lock-step with Government to turn these numbers around to ensure we deliver the new homes our communities need.” said Mr Melvin.


Media Enquiries: Director, Media & Communications UDIA NSW and National:
Deanna Lane 0416 295 898 or