Inner-city Newcastle was the only area in the state outside Sydney to clock up more than $200 million in housing approvals last financial year, according to a housing industry report which places it among the top 20 suburbs "building momentum" in Australia.
The Housing Industry Association's report on population and housing "hot spots" in Australia shows the Newcastle-Cooks Hill statistical area piled on $239 million in housing approvals in the 2017-18 financial year and grew its population by 2.5 per cent.
These numbers placed it 13th on a list of population growth areas in NSW with approvals above $200 million. It was the only non-Sydney area among 17 on the list.
Newcastle-Cooks Hill came in 12th on a national list of areas "building momentum" after a 58 per cent rise in residential approvals in the first six months of this financial year ($160 million) compared with the corresponding period a year earlier ($101 million).
Other notable Hunter performers in 2017-18 included Thornton-Millers Forest with $96.3 million in building approvals and population growth of 7.7 per cent.
The area comprising Maryland, Fletcher and Minmi added $57.1 million in residential building approvals and 4.4 per cent more people, while Branxton, Greta and Polkolbin attracted $75.3 million in approvals and population growth of 4.2 per cent.
The Newcastle Herald reported two weeks ago that Newcastle and Lake Macquarie unit prices had fallen almost 10 per cent and houses almost 8 per cent from their peaks amid a downturn in the national housing market.
The HIA report says Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show building approvals peaked at the end of 2017, cooled though 2018 and by January 2019 had fallen by 37.5 per cent in 14 months.
"This downturn is particularly evident in multi-unit approvals, which are now 48.5 per cent lower in the same three-month period to January 2019 compared with the same time in the previous year," the report says.
Approvals for detached houses have remained relatively consistent, falling 7.7 per cent compared with a year earlier.
"The fall in multi-unit approvals at the end of 2018 is not a sign of dire outcomes as there still remains a large volume of multi-unit work that has been approved but has not yet commenced," the report says.
The HIA list of the nation's top 20 hot spots, all with approvals above $150 million and population growth beyond 9 per cent, is dominated by 12 areas in Melbourne.
The other eight are in south-east Queensland and Sydney.