Maitland was building up rather than out in 2016, with approvals for multi-unit dwellings surging 25 per cent on the previous year.
141 multi-unit dwellings were approved in the 12 months to December according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, up from 113 in the year prior.
However that was offset by a four per cent drop in the number detached dwellings approved – with the number falling from 632 to 609 – so that the overall number of approvals remained steady.
Executive director of the Housing Industry Association Craig Jennion described the multi-unit result as “fantastic” and said it was driven by strong growth around the East Maitland area.
“That covers everything from Gillieston Heights across to Morpeth and Largs and down to Ashtonfield and Metford," he said.
Mr Jennion said levels of construction activity were typically very consistent over the last seven years.
“That's because Maitland has a ready supply of affordable land and the council has been releasing it quite steadily.
“In the last year some of the most significant projects have been Harvest and Waterford County."
Newcastle performed strongly, with the number of detached dwellings approved soaring to 447, a 59 per cent increase on the 282 approved in the year before.
757 multi-unit dwellings were approved, a jump of 16 per cent on the 650 approved in the year prior.
Mr Jennion said the increase in detached dwellings was likely due to the large greenfield sites being unlocked along the western growth corridor.
“Places like Fletcher, Maryland and Minmi were particularly strong,” he said.
Overall approvals were up 12 per cent in Cessnock and 30 per cent in Singleton. Mr Jennion said the results would bolster confidence after a number of difficult years due to mining downturn.
There was a significant decline in approvals for new multi-unit dwellings in Lake Macquarie, with the number sliding from 429 in 2015 to 293 last year.
Mr Jennion said it was not uncommon to see such “volatile” numbers in the smaller local government areas.
“Sometimes the approvals take a lot of work to get through council or someone is waiting to buy a neighbour’s block. That can mean you do get a bit of a stop-start approach.”
Total approvals also declined 10 per cent in Port Stephens but Mr Jennion said Muswellbrook was the “standout” for the worst performance, with just six new dwellings approved, compared to 61 in 2015.
“Muswellbrook had a bit of a shocker,” he said. “That’s really because mining confidence in the Upper Hunter is not quite as strong.”