A new report has found that the number of units in planned Strategic Housing Developments (SHD) in Dublin that have been delayed or cancelled as a result of judicial reviews has risen tenfold in the last year.
Last year 5,802 potential new apartments and houses were impacted by legal challenges to SHDs, compared to just 508 a year earlier.
The annual construction sector report by consultants Mitchell McDermott, also found that judicial reviews involving SHDs nationally had risen seven-fold, from 1,048 units in 2019 to 6,969 last year.
SHDs involve a faster than normal planning process and can only be used for developments of 100 apartments or houses or more than 200 student beds.
“The SHD process was designed to fast track the planning process for residential units in order to alleviate the current housing supply crisis,” said Paul Mitchell, co-author of the report.
“Last year 30% of units were stalled due to the judicial process, compared to 4% in 2019.”
“The country’s annual residential output is 20,000 units, so that puts that figure in context and shows the disproportionate effect these reviews are having on potential developments.”
Mr Mitchell added that it would be better if in circumstances where planning permission is quashed due to relatively minor administrative issues, the applicant does not have to restart the process again as is currently the case.
He also highlighted that there are no plans yet to put in place new arrangements when the current SHD process ends this time next year.
“This could lead to further bottlenecks in the planning system next year,” he said.
He added that any re-examination of the scheme should consider the threshold for taking a judicial review, which he claimed is currently quite low.
The report also found that while cost inflation in the construction sector is predicted to rise by between 2.5% and 3% this year, it could end up being higher as a result of Covid-19 and Brexit.
“With regard to costs, there is a lot of noise in the market at the moment about potential increases in building materials,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Brexit and Covid have disrupted supply lines and as a result a range of building materials such as timber, insulation, ironmongery, plasterboard etc are predicted to rise by between 5 to 16%.”
“The pandemic has also led to a massive 300% hike in shipping costs from Asia to Europe, adding further to cost uncertainty.”
The report also highlights that more than €7bn worth of new data centres are planned for Ireland over the next five years.
This is because of the volume of tech companies operating here as well as highly competitive pricing.
But proposed new developments of office and student accommodation are expected to slow down, Mitchell McDermott found, with some office schemes being redesigned to take account of anticipated new post-pandemic flexible ways of working.
Despite most hotels currently being closed to all but frontline workers, the study also found that there will be 4,177 new hotel beds coming on stream in Dublin this year, a 17% increase.
However, it also claims that most new schemes have been put on ice pending the end of the pandemic.