Planning permissions for homes plummets by 50%

Latest CSO planning data highlights Covid-related collapse in activity

Planning permissions for homes fell by over 50 per cent in the first quarter in 2021 as restrictions on construction dampened activity.

While planning is an imperfect guide to future output as many permissions never translate into homes, the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) suggest housing supply is likely to lag demand for some time to come.

They show the number of planning permissions granted for dwelling units between January and March was 6,963, of which 3,874 were apartments and 3,089 were houses.

This represented an annual decrease of 50.7 per cent on the same period last year. The number of planning permissions for apartments fell by nearly two-thirds to 3,874. This was still more than permissions granted for houses (3,089), continuing a trend seen in recent quarters, which is linked overhaul in the planning guidelines, which made it more economic for developers to build apartments.


The number of Strategic Housing Development (SHD) applications approved for apartment and housing units declined annually by 62 per cent and 92.5 per cent, the CSO said.


One-off houses accounted for 23.9 per cent of all new dwelling units granted planning permission in the first quarter.

A lockdown to curb the coronavirus halted construction on all but essential building activity in the first quarter. This is expected to curtail the supply of new homes coming on to the market.

The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) forecast earlier this week that total house completions this year would be about 21,000, similar to last year.

Prior to the pandemic, it forecasted that annual housing completions would reach 30,000 units by the end of 2022, but it does not now expect this level of output until the end of 2024.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times