The latest Irish data for Planning Permissions approvals is a mix of some good news, some bad news and some ugly trends. Here is the summary of them for 3Q 2019:
- Overall, planning permissions numbers for housing applications are up 4.02% y/y - this is the good news. Better news: cumulative 1Q-3Q 2019 numbers are up 7.12% on the same period in 2018.
- New dwelling planning permissions are up 6.01% y/y - this too is the good news. Also exciting: cumulative 9 months permissions are up 6.33% y/y.
- Other new construction ex-dwellings permissions are up 6.29% - another bit of good news.
- Extensions and alterations-related planning permissions are up only 1.42%. But this is offset by the cumulative 9 months gain of 7.65% y/y. Which is a nice number.
- Bad news: private homes permissions are up only 1.13% y/y in 3Q 2019, and worse news: the same are down massive 5.57% y/y on a cumulative basis for the first 9 months of 2019.
- Great news: apartments permissions (for units, not aggregated over schemes) are up massive 80.15% in 3Q 2019 y/y and are cumulatively up 86.81% y/y for the first nine months of 2019.
- Average area of the houses for which new permissions are grated is up 0.82% in 3Q 2019 compared to 3Q 2018, but average area of the apartments with new permissions granted is down big time: down 14% y/y in 3Q 2019 and on average down 7.1% in the first 9 months of 2019.
So we are planning more apartments (good), not as significantly more homes (bad), but our apartments planned are getting smaller (bad).
Now for some other bad news, or trends, rather.
Given the demographic demand and the state of construction industry in the post-crisis period, we are continuing to under-supply new housing to the markets. Based on the assumed demand for 25,000 new homes annually, cumulative undersupply of new permissions to build residential units since 1Q 2010 currently stands at around 81,900 units and although this number is finally declining (since 4Q 2017), at the current rate of new planning permissions approvals (Q1-Q3 2019 figure), it would take almost 6.5 years to clear the backlog. That is, assuming in the mean time, there is no new recession to knock out the wind from the building and construction sector, and/or no significant inward / return migration to boost demand. Accounting for depreciation at ca 4100 units per annum (https://www.savills.com/insight-and-opinion/savills-news/273944/john-mccartney--housing-obsolescence-commonly-overestimated--and-depreciation-heavily-concentrated-in-rural-ireland) extends this horizon to 10.3 years.