End of year surge pushes land sales top €515m in 2023

Savills report sees residential land sales driving market in year ahead

Activity in Ireland’s land trading market fell last year, a new report has found, with more than 60 per cent taking place in the final three months of the year.

The new report, from property adviser Savills Ireland said €515 million worth of land was transacted in 2023, with major deals including the sale of the former Jury’s Hotel in Ballsbridge for €152 million taking place towards the end of the year.

More than half the sales volume was in residential land, with acquisitions from both the Land Development Agency and Fingal County Council for sites in Clongriffin and Swords at €38 million and €27 million respectively. The Rockbrook site in Sandyford and a 73-acre site in Ballincollig, Co Cork, also changed hands for €15 million each.

Residential sites are expected to dominate the market in 2024, Savills said.


“Demand for residential sites with planning persists, underpinned by the continued need for housing delivery. At the moment, larger sites trading without planning permission are typically more strategic in nature, as evidenced by the price disparity. However; oportunitic buyers who can support a purchase of these type of assets will reap the rewards once they have managed to obtain an implementable grant of planning permission,” said John Swarbrigg, Director of Development Land. “2024 is also likely to see continued State participation, specifically AHB’s, Local Authorities and in particular as the Land Development Agency continue to accelerate their residential delivery mandate. While challenges remain, there is positivity in the market as interest rate cuts will reduce debt costs and spur on activity this year.”

Sites with planning permission will attract a premium, particularly in light of continued delays in the planning process.

The report however highlighted the upcoming changes to legislation. The Planning and Development Bill, which is currently in the third stage of review and debate in Dáil Éireann, includes the restructuring of An Bord Pleanála.

There is also the expectation that density on some sites will be improved following the recent publication of the Sustainable Residential Development and Compact Settlements Guidelines for Planning Authorities.

“The Planning and Development Bill 2023 is a welcome review of the planning system. Planning resources are a key factor to the success of the Bill and significant attention should be placed on staffing not just An Bord Pleanála but also the local councils which are reporting acute shortages of planners,” said Raymond Tutty, Head of Planning. “Without these resources, the administrative power to clear the backlog of applications and processing of new applications will still be delayed.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist