The greater Dublin area accounts for a growing proportion of permissions for residential development according to a new report from the planning regulator.

Dublin and surrounding areas in the Eastern and Midlands Regional Assembly (EMRA) accounted for 74% of planning permissions last year up from 64% the year before.

The annual report from the Office of the Planning Regulator found that permissions for a total of 44,538 residential units were granted last year.

The planning regulator Niall Cussen said of nearly two-thirds of permissions within the EMRA were in the four Dublin local authority areas.

"This suggests that the basis for more sustainable urban development and less urban sprawl is there if those urban permissions, particularly for apartments, can be activated at a greater level and delivered affordably, something which the Government's "Housing For All" action plan correctly focuses on" he said.

Mr Cussen also said it was "quite remarkable" that there was an increase of 13.5% in planning permissions process by local authorities and the Department of Housing last year. despite the Covid pandemic.

However, he said challenges remain such as a growing number of planning applications being found to be invalid.

And he said there are strong signals that local authority planning departments are "seriously under-resourced".