Big rise in one-off rural homes risks clashing with State’s policy on housing

The planning regulator has expressed concern over a large jump in the number of rural one-off houses getting planning permission.

tand-alone homes accounted for 45pc of all houses approved last year, a 42pc increase on the number permitted in 2020.

In the first nine months of this year, they accounted for 41pc of all houses given permission. Regulator Niall Cussen said that if the pattern continued, it would be at odds with government policy on housing density.

“Close monitoring will be required to see whether data signalling a shift towards a greater number of planning applications for smaller housing development proposals and one-off housing, as opposed to larger scheme type housing in cities and towns, becomes a trend in 2022 and beyond,” he said.

“If such trends were to continue or escalate, they would potentially be in conflict with the objectives of government policy in terms of securing a more compact and sustainable pattern of overall development.”

A total of 42,991 homes got planning permission last year – 26,272 apartments, 9,220 houses in estates and other multi-unit developments and 7,499 one-offs.

The number of apartments was slightly up on 2020 and the number of houses down – a continuation of the trend in 2019 and 2020.

But the number of one-off houses rose significantly. The numbers in 2018, 2019 and 2020 were 5,481, 5,622 and 5,291 respectively.

There were 7,499 last year and the indications are for a similar figure this year after 5,568 were given permission in the first nine months.

In 2018, 2019 and 2020 the proportion of houses that were one-offs was 27pc, 29pc and 30pc respectively.

Last year the figure was 45pc and the figure for the first nine months of this year is 37pc.

Government policy on paper is to promote more compact residential building to prevent ribbon development across the country, make better use of infill sites and rejuvenate struggling provincial towns.

One of junior minister Peter Burke’s last moves before leaving the Department of Housing for the Department of Foreign Affairs was to give reassurance that long-awaited new guidelines on rural housing would not be overly restrictive on one-off homes.

The data comes from an end-of-year review by the Office of the Planning Regulator, which shows a very large increase in the total number of planning applications for all kinds of developments last year.

At 39,934, the number of applications was a 29pc increase on 2020 and the highest figure since 2008.

A total of 88.5pc of applications were granted permission, but there was a large disparity between the local authorities with the lowest and highest rate of approvals.

Louth County Council had the lowest at 77pc compared with Tipperary County Council at 97pc. An even greater variation emerged in the proportion of planning applications deemed invalid, which happens when they are submitted without sufficient detail or documentation.

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