Written answers

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Planning Issues

9:00 pm

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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Question 316: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason there has been a 33% fall in the number of homes granted planning permission in the second quarter of 2006 compared with the same period in 2005; the expected consequences of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31196/06]

Photo of Dick RocheDick Roche (Minister, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Minister of State, Department of An Taoiseach; Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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I assume that the Question refers to recently released figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). These show that in the second quarter of 2006 a total of 19,097 residential units were granted planning permission, which was a decrease of 33% on the equivalent figure for the second quarter in 2005, that is, 28,818.

However figures taken over 4 quarters, that is the year up to June 2006, show a considerably smaller fall in permitted residential units, namely a decrease of 17% over the previous four quarters.

The numbers of units approved in 2004 and 2005, 101,653 and 99,352 respectively as compared to the number of units completed in those years – 76,954 and 86,188, respectively – suggests that there are many permissions yet unused.

It is also worth bearing in mind that, according to the CSO, the rate of grant of planning permission for residential units in 2004 and 2005 was significantly higher than in the 3 years prior to that with 200,000 units granted permission in those years alone – at current rate of construction, that is 21⁄2 years supply. In contrast the rate of grant of residential units in 2001 to 2003 was less than 80,000 units annually, a rate of approval that was sufficient to deliver record numbers of constructed units. Therefore the drop in numbers may simply reflect the numbers being applied for in any one period and be a natural part of the construction cycle.

The fall is not due to a decline in the efficiency of the planning system or to any deficiency in the amount of zoned and serviced land. Insofar as the processing of all planning applications by planning authorities is concerned, the number of decisions being made by planning authorities has increased over the same period. Planning authorities decided 38,377 applications in the first half of 2006, an increase of over 1,000 decisions compared to the same period in 2005. The proportion of applications granted remains above 80% consistently. While these figures relate to all planning applications, it is reasonable to assume that they do not vary widely between housing and other types of application.

A survey conducted by my Department on the amount of zoned residential land in local authority areas that was serviced at end 30 June 2005 indicates that there is more than an adequate stock of serviced building land available throughout the country for residential development. At end June 2005, there was 14,782 hectares of serviced residentially zoned land nationally, with an estimated yield of 459,641 housing units. This equates to sufficient capacity nationally for residential development for over 5 years, based on 2005 completions of around 81,000 units.


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