Spike in planning permissions for apartments

CSO data point to big uptick in apartment developments in wake of new guidelines

The level of planning permissions granted for apartments jumped by more than 150 per cent to nearly 4,700 in the second quarter of this year, new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show.

The increase in permissions comes on the back of an overhaul to the apartment planning guidelines in March 2018, which made it more economic for developers to build.

The CSO said planning permissions were granted for a total of 9,611 homes in the second quarter of 2019, 4,675 of which were apartments and 4,936 were houses.

This represented an overall increase of 42 per cent on the same period last year, which comprised of a 156 per cent increase in apartments and a 0.3 per cent decrease in house units.


This was also one of the first times since the crash that planning applications for apartments matched those for houses.

While the number of units is similar, the CSO said the floor area for apartments is 52 per cent that of houses.

Last year Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy introduced changes to the minimum apartment size guidelines.

Car parking

The requirement for car-parking spaces was removed and the cap on the number of units allowed on each floor increased. The original dual-aspect stipulation – the necessity for apartments to have windows on two walls – was dropped.

Height restrictions on residential buildings were also altered to allow for easier construction of high-rise developments in cities.

At the time Mr Murphy said the measures would address a number of challenges including making it more cost-effective to build apartments.

The restrictions have been criticised by developers who claimed they hindered apartment supply.

Several economists have linked the State’s housing crisis to a shortage of apartments, not houses. The distinction is crucial to understanding the severity of the problem, they say.

In other European countries, apartments typically account for 30-50 per cent of the housing stock, but in the Republic they account for just 10 per cent.

The CSO figures also showed one-off houses accounted for 14.4 per cent of all new dwelling units granted planning permission in the second quarter.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times