$9-million drop in building work

Colac builders Michael Neave, Lachlan Simpkin and Ian Simpkin are optimistic despite a $9-million drop in Colac Otway Shire's building permits.

BUILDING work in Colac Otway Shire has dropped by more than $9 million in the past year.

Figures from the Building Commission show the shire had 455 building permits worth $56.2 million last year, compared with 501 permits worth $65.8 million in 2010.

The bulk of the drop was in domestic permits, which fell from 394 to 352, and public buildings, 39 to 28.

But the number of residential projects rose from four to 12, and commercial projects also increased from 43 to 48.

Colac Otway Shire’s figures defied the state total, which was a record $24.2 billion in building permits, up 1.5 per cent on 2010.

Builders said they were optimistic about the year ahead, despite the drop in the shire’s building projects.

Peter Scott of residential builders McGlynn and Scott described the past year as “steady”.

“We’re possibly not seeing as many plans, but there’s still enough to keep builders busy,” Mr Scott said.

“We’ve seen a few plans at Apollo Bay lately, we’ve also not long ago finished a house in Birre and working in Camperdown later in the year, so it seems to be in the surrounding districts for us anyway,” he said.

“At this stage it looks like we’re going to have a steady year again.”

Colac commercial and domestic builder Ian Simpkin said Colac and district seemed to have “a lot of stability”.

“It’s never been a real boom or bust area, which is probably one of its attractions, I suppose,” Mr Simpkin said.

“From my point of view it’s been pretty stable for the last few years, we’re probably busier now than when the GFC was on,” he said.

Colac Otway Shire Council sustainable planning general manager Jack Green said it was difficult to comment on yearly permit figures because construction could spread “over a few years”.

“We may have a major public building such as the school redevelopment in one year, and in other years there may be a large number of building permits which by their nature might not represent as large a capital expenditure but are still evidence of productive economic activity,” Mr Green said.

The Building Commission figures show Corangamite Shire had $30.1 million in permits in 2011, down about $8 million from 2010, and Surf Coast Shire’s 2011 total was $227 million compared with $258.9 million the previous year.

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