How good building approvals data in Cairns?

Latest ABS regional building approval data from Conus: Regional Building Approvals; Rest of QLD flat for the year as Far North does better

This latest data is to March 2018. So far the Nova development residential units don’t appear to be in the ABS data. This is despite some construction activity for foundation pilings currently on site which commenced in April and had been well hyped in local media prior to commencement. The usual problem with this data is that building approvals cant always be assumed to translate into construction commencements rather than the reverse.

Also noted in the most recent HTW CairnsWatch April 2018:

Building approval figures for the Cairns urban area for the period October 2016 to September 2017 have been revised significantly upwards by the ABS (by a 22% increase compared to before), with the result that the building approval slump previously recorded for 2016-17 has now been substantially revised away. Building approval levels over the last four years now present a flattish trend that has remained at consistently low levels by long term historical standards.

Certainly not the first time and I have previously come unstuck on not insignificant revisions in the Cairns data. ABS Explanatory Notes:

The information provided to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and included in estimates for any month may be revised or corrected in later months. This can occur as a result of corrections made by a provider of data, the late provision of approval records and, occasionally, by approvals being identified after construction work has commenced.


I previously queried the status of the Nova development and quality of the data a year ago (May 2017) when the preliminary operational works were underway with a reply from Kelly Reaston at Cairns Regional Council.

Thank you for your email.
The Nova City approval process is similar to all other Development Approval requirements within the State of Queensland.
The Applicant must seek the following approvals:-
1. Development Approval;
2. Operational Works Approvals; and
3. Building Approvals.
At this stage the Applicant has obtained Development Approvals for the towers and operational works approval for associated drainage works. Building approvals are obtained through a private Building Certifier.
The timeframes for progressing these approvals and the ultimate construction of the development is a matter for the Applicant.
I trust this information addresses your enquiry.

There have been regular reports since of imminent commencement mostly in the context of sales promotion as previously posted Nova City Flurry (February 2018) following an email from Nova marketing:

The most exciting thing of course, will be to see Nova City coming out of the ground. Construction is starting with pilings, the beginning of April!
We had a flurry of buying just prior to Christmas which saw some of our best two bedroom apartments sell to some local Cairns buyers so we recommend that if you are looking to purchase one of our apartments, that you beat the rush and secure your preferred apartment now. We only have 5 one bedroom apartments left and limited floors available on the front overlooking the CBD skyline and out to the Coral Sea.

Data supplied by Aspial and World Class Global to Singapore Stock Exchange on Nova sales:

Project Nova City Tower 1
Type Residential & Commercial
Total Units 187
Launch Date 4Q2016 (calendar year)
Units Launched 101
20172Q % Sold* 34%
20173Q % Sold* 34%
20174Q % Sold* 35%
20181Q % Sold* 39%

* % sold based on number of units launched

No idea how others do their maths but I make that 5 unit sales in 9 months despite yet another hyperbolic headline in the Cairns Post today: “Locals rush Nova units”, with a suggestion from Nova marketing that the number may be closer to 50%. The latest quarterly report from WGC this month makes no comment on construction progress at Nova. The current marketing office building on site was actually completed in 2015.


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