The number of homes under construction in Dublin city is down almost 50 per cent on last year, with a 20 per cent drop across the region as a whole, according to a new report from the Government's Dublin Housing Supply Task Force.
Apartment construction rates in particular crashed in the last year following an announcement by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy last December of plans to remove caps on building heights. The change did not come into force until this month.
The numbers of apartments under construction fell by 25 per cent from the third quarter of last year to the same period this year, while those with planning permission but remaining unbuilt increased by almost 60 per cent.
Figures for the third quarter of the year show a fall in the number of houses and apartments under construction from 7,393 in 2017 to 5,915 in 2018 across the four Dublin local authorities – a drop of 20 per cent.
However in the Dublin city area, the decline is even worse, with a 49 per cent drop from 2,325 to 1,185 houses and apartments.
While the decline in building activity was at its worst in the city, there was a drop in home building in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown of 15 per cent to 1,322, and in South Dublin of 12 per cent to 1,138 homes. Fingal was the only area where the number of homes under construction increased, with 2,348 houses and apartments being built, compared to 2,260 in the third quarter of 2017.
These decreases in construction were “offset by the significant increase in housing completions this quarter”, the report said. The number of homes completed more than doubled, with 1,336 finished in the third quarter of the year up from 644 in the third quarter of 2017.
However, the announcement by Mr Murphy last December that he intended to remove restrictions on the height of apartment blocks appears to have had a dampening effect on the sector. While house construction fell by 14 per cent from 3,763 to 3,221, the number of apartments being built fell by more than 25 per cent from 3,630 to 2,694.
More starkly still, while the number of houses for which planning permission has been granted, but construction had yet to start rose by 4 per cent from 9,014 to 9,330, the number of apartments with planning permission remaining unbuilt rose by 59 per cent from 12,884 to 20,529.
Not financially viable
The failure of developers to act on permissions for apartment blocks was because their construction was not financially viable, Hubert Fitzpatrick, director of housing and planning with the Construction Industry Federation, said.
“I would expect now the new guidelines are in place people will look at these projects again and perhaps lodge new applications.”
While this would not result in an immediate uplift in apartment construction, Mr Fitzpatrick said, he hoped construction could begin in 2019 as these applications would likely be submitted directly to An Bord Pleanála through the fast-track process for schemes of 100 or more homes.