An Bord Pleanála decision rates decline sharply in 2023

Despite additional resources last year only one-quarter of decisions delivered on time

In July 2022 the board’s former deputy chairman, Paul Hyde, resigned. He was subsequently sentenced for failing to declare certain property interests in the course of his work. Photograph: The Irish Times

Backlogs at An Bord Pleanála meant decision rates plummeted last year with only one-quarter of cases determined on deadline, despite a substantial injection of resources in the beleaguered planning body.

A Department of Public Expenditure report shows decision rates more than halved in just two years. In 2021 57 per cent of decisions were issued within the 18-week statutory deadline, a performance rate which fell to 45 per cent in 2022, and down to just 25 per cent in 2023.

The Public Service Performance Report shows the number of large-scale infrastructure development cases processed, such as energy projects including wind farms had increased between 2021 and 2022, with 69 strategic infrastructure decisions issued in 2021 and 94 issued in 2022, but this rate plunged to just 29 last year.

The number of homes granted permission did increase last year to 41,225 up from 34,177 in 2022. However last year’s figure was still behind 2021 when 42,991 homes received permission.


The planning board endured the worst upheaval in its history over the last two years. In July 2022 the board’s former deputy chairman, Paul Hyde, resigned amid allegations of serious governance issues. Mr Hyde was last November given a suspended sentence for failing to declare certain property interests in the course of his work.

Paul Hyde given suspended sentence and €6,000 fine over failure to declare property interestsOpens in new window ]

Membership of the decision-making board of the organisation had fallen from nine to just five members at the end of 2022. At the same time staff numbers in the organisation as a whole had dropped significantly, which was a debilitating blow to its ability to process permissions.

Board membership was increased to 15 by April 2023 and the organisation was given sanction just over two years ago to take on 117 staff to bring its ranks to 313. Recruitment to date has brought staffing numbers to 268 still leaving a staffing shortfall.

Social Democrats housing spokesman Cian O’Callaghan said this shortfall meant homes were “stuck in planning logjams” at the board.

“Despite promises, staff shortages in An Bord Pleanála have not been dealt with causing increasing delays in processing applications. Development sites with the potential to deliver thousands of homes are needlessly lying idle.”

In response to queries, the board said it “fully acknowledges” delays arose “as a consequence of issues affecting the organisation during 2022″.

Since April 2023 the 15-member board had made “considerable inroads into its on-hands caseload. The board is working to substantively reduce this further in 2024.”

Ongoing recruitment would bring staffing numbers to excess of 300 this year it said.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times