There were 305 planning permissions approved in quarter four of 2021, according to the latest data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). This compares to 498 applications approved for the corresponding period in 2020, as reflected in Figure 1.
There are two factors responsible for the sharp contrast in approvals – the number of applications submitted in quarters three and four in 2020 was influenced by a backlog in the system due to the coronavirus pandemic, while reports also indicate that confidence in new builds is being tempered by the rapid escalation in building costs.
As expected, the greatest activity in planning for new builds and extensions or conversions remains in the south of the country
Reports suggest that the number of planning permission applications submitted in the first half of 2022 will fall below typical levels for the time of year as farmers come to terms with both the rising costs of building materials and rising input costs.
As expected, the greatest activity in planning for new builds and extensions or conversions remains in the south of the country, which accounted for over half (136) of the 260 applications relating to new builds. This compares to 70 in the northern and western regions and 54 in the midlands and east.
Reports from the construction and agricultural sectors show that the escalation in farm input costs combined with renewed sharp increases in the cost of building materials over the last year is leading to many farmers now delaying or cancelling planned construction buildings.
The latest CSO wholesale price index for building and construction materials published on 22 March gives some insight in to the escalation in costs.
Structural steel and reinforcing metal is up by an average of 27%
The CSO statistics for February 2022 show that rough timber has increased by the greatest percentage of between 60% and 70% year-on-year, while other timber is up almost 50%.
All categories of steel have increased substantially in price.
Structural steel and reinforcing metal is up by an average of 27%, with other structural steel recorded as running 48% higher while another category of reinforcing metal costs 54.6% more than 12 months ago.
This does not take in to account the price increases which occurred in 2020 or the increases which have taken place in recent weeks as supply chain challenges intensify due to the war in Ukraine.
The CSO data shows that domestically produced or sourced products such as stone, sand and gravel, cement, blocks etc were running 10% to 12% higher in February.
Reports indicate this increase is now much greater with the severe increase in fuel prices increasing manufacturing costs.
Meanwhile, the average cost of electrical fittings/materials is reported as increasing by in excess of 18%, while the piping and plumbing fittings are up by between 8% and 17% year-on-year.