Shifting the focus

Approved development permits for new residences fell sharply in 2023, as the market starts to respond to Government incentives to shift the focus from the construction of new buildings to the re-use of existing properties.

During 2023 the Planning Authority approved permits for a total of 8,112 residences, according to data from the National Statistics Office (NSO). This meant a decrease of more than 15% from the number approved the previous year. Furthermore, the number of new dwellings approved was more than a third lower than 2019, that is before the outbreak of the pandemic.

In fact, excluding the two years of the pandemic (2020 and 2021), the number of permits approved last year was the lowest since 2016. On average, since 2013 the number of approved dwellings per year was 7,691, and the number approved last year was just over this 11-year average.  

ApartmentsMaisonettesTerraced housesOthersTotal
20132,062352209842,707
20142,221414204982,937
20153,0194713421153,947
20166,3167062971897,508
20177,762852301919,006
201811,2111,16639611212,885
201910,7261,22640213112,485
20206,735727299767,837
20216,451738290997,578
20228,280910333769,599
20237,026712292828,112

The biggest reduction in the rate at which permits were approved was in those of apartments. Here, the number fell to just over 7,000, or 18% less than in 2022, and almost 40% less than the record number that was approved in 2018.

The deceleration in the rate of approved permits was most significant in the last quarter of 2023, when the number of permits fell by 37% compared to that of a year earlier. Official statistics also indicate that, while the overall decrease was 15% during 2023 across the whole country, in Gozo the number of permits approved fell by 34%, or more than double the national average. The lowest decrease was observed in the Northern Harbour area, where the number of approved permits was only 7% lower than that of a year earlier.

In Gozo, the permits approved in the last quarter of 2023 fell below the 200 residences level for the first time since the pandemic, with a decrease of around half compared to the amount that had been approved in the last quarter of 2022.

All this indicates that the market is starting to respond to the incentives that the Government is putting in place to shift the focus from the construction of new buildings to the re-use of existing properties. This policy direction is being implemented through strong incentives for those who buy UCA or vacant property, and who also invest in the renovation of such properties.

The statistics on approved permits indicate that, while permits for new dwellings are decreasing at a significant rate, the number of approved permits for changes to properties and renovation of dwellings is being much more resilient.

Furthermore, the NSO noted that, while in the last quarter of 2022, each approved permit included an average of around 6 residences per permit, those in the last quarter of 2023 included an average of 4 residences per permit. Once again this in in line with the policy direction from Government for developments to be become more in line with traditional Maltese buildings.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Menu