THE NUMBER of planning applications for residential developments fell in the first half of this year, according to Dublin's local authorities.
The slowdown in the residential sector has seen fewer builders risk embarking on new housing developments this year.
And in contrast to last year, when domestic applications soared, the first half of 2008 saw home owners rein in their finances, driving planning applications for home improvements downwards in all of the local authorities.
But as extensions under 40sq m (431sq ft) do not need planning permission, the local authority figures only give part of the picture.
Dublin City Council says planning applications for residential developments of two or more units have fallen by 33 per cent, from 270 to 180. Interestingly, although applications are down, the number of residential units being applied for has increased by 100 to 1,130.
A source from Dublin City Council says this might be as a result of the banks leaning on developers to realise the value of their lands.
"Commencement notices are down and planning applications are down and the credit crunch is affecting everyone. The banks could be leaning on some developers to go through the planning process so they can realise the market value of land they've acquired. It some cases it could be purely a financial exercise."
Domestic applications are down 10 per cent on last year, in the city, while one-off houses and adjacent houses saw a drop from 230 applications in the first six months of 2007, to 160 for the same period in 2008, representing a drop of 30 per cent.
South Dublin County Council reports a fairly dramatic 36 per cent differential in the number of residential units applied for since last year. The figure fell from from 2,623 units up to the end of July 2007 to 1,660 this year.
South Dublin says that planning applications for domestic extensions and alterations fell by 16 per cent on 2007.
In the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council area, the number of applications in the category that includes residential developments fell by nearly 19 per cent on the period to end-July last year.
More startling is the 62 per cent plummet in the number of residential units applied for between May and the end of July. It has dropped by a massive 62 per cent on the same period last year - from 3,861 to 1,415 units this year.
In Fingal County Council applications fell by around 25 per cent and domestic extension figures were down from 428 to 410, comparing each year to June. Income from planning fees on applications is down to €963,932 compared to €1,8829,076 in the same period.
This drop in applications seems set to continue. Tony Shanahan of South Dublin County Council says "if trends continue" the planners anticipate a slowdown in the number of applications coming in.
The Irish Times