Planning and housing supply

System can only process what the market applies for

Sir, – Architect Hugh Wallace’s sentimentality for a time before the Irish planning system existed in the early 20th century and pointing the finger at disjointed, short-term localism as the origin of our housing supply problems overlooks some basic facts (“Our planning system is broken – this is how we fix it”, Property, September 29th).

First, the Local Government (Planning & Development) Act 1963 was superseded over two decades ago by the more simply titled Planning & Development Act 2000. By the mid-2000s, the planning system was processing over 85,000 planning applications per year and Ireland was building approximately 90,000 houses per year.

Second, the official planning statistics show that, nationally, 88.5 per cent of planning applications were granted permission by local planning authorities in 2021, with 62.4 per cent of decisions made within the statutory eight-week time frame. Overall, of the 31,008 applications made in 2020, just 2,753 (8.9 per cent) were appealed to An Bord Pleanála. A total of 73 per cent of those appeals are disposed of within the statutory objective period of 18 weeks.

Finally, it is of course true that Ireland did successfully deliver more housing and other infrastructure in the past. However, the key difference between then and now, and to which Mr Wallace alludes, is that it was the State that was doing the delivery. Today it is the market, and the planning system can only process what the market applies for and we are entirely dependent on it for delivery. It is estimated that, nationwide, there are extant planning permissions for up to 80,000 housing units where construction has not commenced, so much so that the Government has recently announced the Project Tosaigh scheme to purchase them back through the Land Development Agency.


But let’s not let the facts get in the way of the usual tired criticisms of the planning system. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 1.