More than 25,000 unbuilt homes have planning permission

Construction industry body says developers waiting on apartment-height changes

Dublin's developers are sitting on planning permission for more than 25,000 houses and apartments, new figures compiled by the four Dublin local authorities show.

The figures from the Dublin housing supply taskforce, to be published by the Department of Housing on Thursday, show that at the end of the first quarter of the year 3,724 houses and 3,629 apartments were under construction across the capital but planning permission for 25,053 homes remained unused. Almost two-third of the permitted but unbuilt homes are apartments.

Despite the strong recovery in Dublin property prices, the Construction Industry Federation said many schemes that had been granted permission remained "unviable" and developers were likely to hold off on construction of apartments until the Minister for Housing published new height guidelines.

The total number of houses and apartments under construction did increase by 27 per cent from 5,800 in the first quarter of last year to 7,353 at the same time this year. There was also an increase in the number of “active” building sites from 151 in the first quarter of 2017 to 173 this year.


‘Relatively positive’

The department describes the figures in relation to extant planning permissions as "relatively positive" with fewer houses waiting to be built than in the same period last year. However the number of homes completed remains low, with 183 houses finished in the first three months of the year, and just 65 apartments all of which were in the South Dublin County Council area.

In addition to the unbuilt homes which have planning permission, 47,312 houses and apartments could be built of land which is ready for development, without the requirement for any infrastructural investment. Another 29,272 homes could be built on land which is waiting for State investment in infrastructure, while 24,380 homes could be built on sites which are dependent on investment by Irish Water.

Hubert Fitzpatrick, director of housing and planning with the Construction Industry Federation, said a grant of planning permission does not mean development is feasible.


“Planning permission doesn’t imply viability and many sites are still unviable, where the costs aren’t meeting the market value. In each case the local market will have to be assessed and, particularly for apartments in some cases it won’t be possible to proceed.”

Many planning permissions for apartments would also be defunct once Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy issues new guidelines allowing the construction of taller apartment blocks, Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“We are still waiting for the Minister to issue guidelines on height. We do expect them in the next few weeks, but it will be inevitable that people will look again at their sites and may go back to change, or seek new planning permission.”

A spokesman for the department said the guidelines would be issued shortly.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times