THERE HAS been a major slump in the number of planning permission applications made over the past three years, according to a random survey of 10 county councils conducted by this newspaper.
Just 329 planning applications were made to Leitrim County Council this year, up to mid-August. This compares with 2,142 applications for the full year of 2004, the highest figure in the decade for the sparsely-populated county.
2006 was also a busy year for applications but the downturn followed and was particularly notable last year when just 958 applications were lodged.
Planning applications can include anything from a house extension to a holiday home to a 100-house development.
Figures supplied by many of the 10 county councils show that 2006 was the peak year for planning applications, although 2007 was also a busy period for planning offices.
The Department of the Environment’s statistics also highlight the downward direction of planning applications across the State.
Figures are not available for this year yet, but preliminary figures for last year show that 62,906 planning applications were lodged. This compares with 91,654 applications in 2007 and 97,227 in 2006.
The most recent figures produced by the Department of the Environment show that 13,449 planning applications were made nationally in the last three months of last year. This is less than half the number made in 2006, when some 27,689 applications were lodged in the final three months of the year. Waterford County Council received just 490 applications for planning up to August 14th this year. In 2006, 2,069 applications were made but figures dropped to 1,935 in 2007 and 1,314 last year.
Cork county also saw a major slump in applications in recent years. Up to last Friday some 3,743 planning applications were made to Cork County Council.
In the boom year of 2006, 12,814 applications were lodged.
Much of the construction boom of recent years was centred on the Dublin region and the reduction in planning applications is evident here.
Fingal County Council, which has a catchment area taking in urban centres such as Balbriggan, Malahide and Mulhuddart, received 841 applications this year up to mid-August.
In 2006 it received 2,737 applications for the full year. It makes the point that the number of planning applications does not translate into the houses built for a number of reasons. An application may refer to one or 50 houses; permission is denied in some cases; and successful applicants have five years before the planning permission lapses.
Dublin City Council received 5,938 planning applications in 2005. In the first six months of this year, just 1,482 applications were received.
Applications to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council went from 3,143 in 2006 to just 972 for the first 7½ months of this year.
And South Dublin County Council just received 545 planning applications up to mid-August this year compared with 1,881 for the full year of 2006.
Co Donegal saw a significant rise in planning applications in 2006 after it introduced a new county development plan.
Some 9,352 applications were lodged in that year. The number of applications fell to 7,579 in the following year, and 4,880 last year. By the end of July this year, Donegal County Council had received just 1,769 applications. In contrast, it had received 5,787 at the same time in 2006.
Commuter counties such as Meath and Kildare have also noticed a significant reduction in planning applications.
By mid-August this year, Kildare county council had received 940 planning applications. In 2007, it received 3,012 for the entire year.
Neighbouring county Meath received 1,286 planning applications up to August 14th this year.
In 2007, some 3,869 applications were lodged while 3,356 applications were lodged last year.