A total of 3,786 new cases were lodged last year, down 32% on the 2008 figure of 5,571, but a drop of 44% on the record 2007 figure of 6,664.
Chairman John O’Connor said the slowdown had enabled staff to make considerable headway in clearing a backlog of cases.
But its annual report published yesterday showed the board was still taking longer than they should to make decisions on cases, with an average of only 26% of files being determined within the 18-week statutory deadline throughout the year, although this had increased to 50% by December.
Most of the trends of previous years continued in 2009 in terms of the types of cases taken and the proportion of cases overturned. Just over half (53%) of appeals were made by third parties against permissions granted by local authorities; 38% were made against refusals issued by the local authorities and 9% were against conditions attached to permissions.
In most cases the decisions of the local authorities were left unchanged. Just one in three (29%) who appealed a refusal were granted permission, while less than half (39%) of third-party appeals were successful.
One in five people (20%) who appealed against one or more of the conditions attached to their permission ended up having the entire permission overturned.
Comparisons of statistics from the various local authorities show some stark differences in the appeal rates and number of decisions overturned. The authorities most likely to have their planning decisions appealed were all in Dublin – Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (18.8%) Dublin City Council (18.3%) and Fingal County Council (15.2%).
At the opposite end of the scale were three largely rural county councils – Monaghan (4.2%), Donegal (4.6%) and Wexford (5%).
However, Donegal had the greatest proportion of decisions overturned (59.5%). Cork City Council’s decisions were the most watertight – just 22% were overturned, followed by North Tipperary County Council (26%) and Waterford City Council (26.9%).
There were 74 requests for oral hearings but only 13 were granted. Just 10% of people who appealed the refusal of one-off rural houses were successful.