$50M DA SPIKE: Coronavirus no drain on Coffs development
UNCERTAINTY during the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't been enough to stop a record amount of investment being planned for the region.
According to data obtained from Coffs Harbour City Council, there are just five fewer development applications lodged during the six months from January to June compared with the same time last year.
In addition, the value of those DAs has skyrocketed from $77,065,823 across January to June 2019 to $127,733,597 in the same period in 2020.
The increase in value of more than $50 million climbs to almost $95 million when the rest of the 2019/20 financial year is taken into account, with $279,677,116 worth of development given the tick of approval.
There was a similar experience in the neighbouring LGA of Clarence Valley which recorded more than $160 million worth of applications across the year - their most ever.
Council sustainable places group leader Ian Fitzgibbon said these numbers suggested building activity remained strong and could potentially improve with the increased DA values indicating bigger developments were on the cards.
With big developments such as the Coffs Harbour Health Campus and Shoreline already coming along, the region could be well placed to avoid some of the worst impacts of the economic crisis brought about by the pandemic.
"If this DA data is anything to go by, Coffs is weathering the COVID impact pretty well," Mr Fitzgibbon said.
The role of the construction industry in the regional economy cannot be overstated, with the industry accounting for just over 10 per cent of the workforce in the entire Coffs Harbour region according to demography firm .id.
That makes it the third biggest employer, behind only retail on 12.2 per cent and healthcare and social assistance on 18.2 per cent.
However, developments need more than just a DA, they need finance, and Mr Fitzgibbon said the true test would come in the next 12 months.
"We recognise the construction industry will play a big part in the COVID recovery," Mr Fitzgibbon said.
"It is a big contributor to the Coffs economy with investment from construction companies and the mums and dads building projects flowing through to local tradies, local suppliers and local families."
He said council had adjusted its resourcing to assist with efficient processing of DAs and construction certificates, something which the NSW Government had been encouraging too.
The State Government has been tweaking planning policies in an effort to speed up the development process and encourage investment in the building industry.
This had been done by accelerating state and regionally significant developments as well as enabling some developers to delay their contributions, freeing up capital to get projects moving.