THE slowdown in the building industry shows no sign of abating with new figures revealing a 17pc fall in the number of planning permissions granted in the first half of the year.
The numbers represent a five-year low and show that just 22,270 new homes, house extensions and developments were granted permission in the first six months of the year, the lowest since 2003 when 19,837 permissions were granted.
The figures show that 12,598 houses were approved, compared with 18,201 in the same period in 2007 (down 30.8pc).
But the number of apartments approved increased to 7,344, up 26.9pc from 2007 when 5,787 were approved.
The last time the number of houses granted permission fell so low was in the last three months of 2003, when 12,582 units were approved.
Yesterday, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) warned that just 30,000 homes would be built in 2009. Potential customers were unable to secure mortgages, leading to a sharp drop in the number of homes likely to come on stream.
"It's no surprise, and a further indication of the significant slowdown in residential construction," a spokesman said.
The figures, published by the Central Statistics Office yesterday, show that for the first six months of 2008, planning permissions were granted for 19,942 homes and apartments combined compared with 23,988 units in the same period in 2007 -- a drop of 17pc. The figures also revealed that :
• One-off houses accounted for 19.9pc of all new dwelling units granted permission.
• The number of developments approved was 11,215 -- a drop of 35.2pc compared to 2007.
• Permissions for new agriculture buildings decreased to 442 this quarter.
• Total floor area planned was 4.77 sqm in the second quarter of 2008. The total floor area planned decreased by 29pc compared to the same quarter of 2007.
CIF warned that even if banks began lending money in the coming months, it would take time to increase delivery of new homes.