Building approvals have sky rocketed for the first time in seven years across the Shire of Harvey as increasing numbers of people continue to “race to the regions”. The 50 per cent increase from last year’s ratings marks the shire’s highest since the 2013-14 financial year, with 320 residential building permits approvedat a construction value of $85 million. Harvey shire president Paul Gillett said most of the building requests came from Treendale, Kingston and Roelands. “The appeal of living in the beautiful Shire, record low borrowing costs and a range of government incentives have contributed to a seven-year high in residential building approvals,” he said. “The close distance to major regional cities, our beautiful coastline and most importantly affordability and liveability within the Shire is what people are looking for.” REIWA deputy president Joe White said cheaper living costs complemented by lower average house prices and incentive to stay in regional areas because of improved facilities were factors behind the increasing number. “It’s a credit to the region, people aren’t moving here because they have to, they’re moving here because they want to, that says a lot,” he said. “The fact that they’ve got those approvals is very very comforting to us as an industry because rents have increased about 20 per cent over the COVID period.” Mr White said the move to the regions started to gain legs in late 2019, however the impact of the pandemic had supercharged it. “It’s part of the race to the regions, it’s also part of what we’re experiencing generally across the regions,” he said. “The total housing supply going up is what will ease the pressure on the housing crisis, as long as the total supply is going up, its going to relieve the pressure.” According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the shire’s approvals had only exceeded 300 three times in the past decade, the highest reaching 586 in 2005-06.