Owners are putting off planned improvements to their houses with a surge in those seeking extensions to almost expired planning permissions.
New figures show a 16% rise in the numbers of “extension of duration” in just 12 months — up from 702 in the first quarter of 2011 to 815 so far in 2012.
The trend has been identified in the latest National Housing Construction Index, which is complied by Link2Plans and due to be released today.
The extension facility was introduced in the 2010 Planning and Development Act to allow people who has secured planning permission that was about to expire after its five-year period to apply for an extension of up to another five years. Reasons set out in the legislation included commercial, economic, and technical reasons.
Link2Plans managing director Danny O’Shea said the recent surge probably reflected the very different economic circumstances under which many planning permissions were first granted up to 2007.
The index also shows the rate of decline in housing construction activity has eased slightly.
It found the decrease in planning applications has slowed from 23% in the first quarter of 2011 to 20% so far this year. However, three counties recorded marginal increases: Donegal was up 2%, Longford up 3%, and Leitrim up 4%.
The largest fall in applications was in Kildare and Kerry, both down 39%, with applications down 35% in Clare and 34% in Kilkenny.
Kerry replaced Mayo in the top four of the poorest performing counties.
Commencement notices have also shown a slight fall — down 1% to a 13% national decline compared to the last index.
The largest fall is in Donegal, down 35%, followed by Monaghan, down 34%, and Galway, which is down 31%.
Since the first index, Donegal and Galway have moved into the top three poorest performing counties, to join Monaghan.
Eight counties have experienced some rise in commencement activity, with the largest percentage increase in Cavan, up 12%, Westmeath, up 13%, Waterford up 14%, and Longford up 56%.
Link2Plans’ researchers examine every housing construction planning application and planning commencement notice in every county.
Mr O’Shea said because they examine actual data, their index gives “a real time barometer” to sentiment in the sector.
He said while there is a significant variation from county to country, this is a clear overall national trend in housing construction activity.
“However the national variation in housing construction activity continues to be quite pronounced.
“The two largest population centres of Dublin and Cork, have decreases in applications and commencements, however they are below the national average for the decline.”
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