In the 1970s, it was widely publicised that the high price of land was driving young home buyers to outer Melbourne, or more often, country areas. Consequently there was a minor exodus to some of the country regions where growth had previously lagged. In these areas land price had remained relatively low and newcomers were finding it economic to buy and build on sites in these previously dormant regions. Ballarat was one such region. Buninyong has shared in this development to a greater extent than the rest through the opportunities opened to new people attracted by the lower prices of home sites and lower rate bills under its enlightened policy of Site Rating.
The relative building performance of Buninyong is compared in the table, with the other five councils for numbers and for values of the building approvals issued for new dwelling construction. The figures are shown for the years ended 30th June, 1971, which in the case of Buninyong was the last year of council taxes on buildings, and for years ended 30th June 1977 and 1978.
The figures reveal that all six councils had shown healthy growth in dwelling approvals up to or just before the year 1976/77. But by the end of year 1977/78 their boom had burst and for all but two there was a disastrous drop in the numbers and values of building approvals. From the differences in the figures between the last two columns it is seen that numbers of dwelling approvals for Buninyong had continued to increase and showed a growth of 16 per cent compared to the previous year. But four of the five councils taxing improvements through the N.A.V. rating basis showed decreases which, for the group as a whole, averaged a drop of 54 per cent.
For the values of the dwellings involved in those approvals Buninyong showed an increase of 12 per cent over the previous year, while the five councils taxing improvements, as a group showed an average decrease of 35 per cent.
The reason for the bursting of the Ballarat region boom was simply that the Ballarat region ran into the same trouble as the metropolitan area the rapid rise in land price. In Ballarat City in 1973 the average price of vacant home sites sold was $2700 and about that level for all these councils. In 1976 it had reached a new average of $6,846 for that city and higher for some of the Shires. The lower rates payable in Buninyong to a considerable extent offset the rise in land price.
Source. Annual Victorian building approval returns issued by the Austalian Bureau of Statistics, catalouge reference 8703.2