NEW figures have recorded a dramatic drop in the number of new homes being built in Cork over the first two months of this year compared with the same period in 2012.
The figures were contained in the latest National Housing Construction Index, compiled from data gathered and posted on the www.link2plans.com website.
The index, which indicates current and future construction at both national and regional level, is compiled using two key sets of data.
The first, planning applications, are viewed as a measure of sentiment and potential future activity. The second, commencement notices, are seen as a 'real time' barometer of actual housing construction activity.
The figures revealed that work commenced on 47 houses in Cork during January and February compared with 73 for the first two months of last year. This represented a 36% decrease on commencements - well above the national average decrease which stood at 14%.
The number of planning applications lodged with Cork County Council also dropped by 4% over the first two months of this year. In 2012 the number stood at 268 compared to 258 for this year.
This is roughly in line with the national average of a 3% decline in planning applications over the two periods.
Commenting on the findings, Link2Plans MD Danny O'Shea said the data illustrated the continued decline in the housing sector across Cork County.
He said that while the adverse weather conditions at the start of this year may explain the fall in commencements, it did not explain the reduction in planning applications over the same period.
"However, there were positive signs of recovery at a national level, with the number of planning applications showing a marked increase in 11 counties," said Mr O'Shea.
"If these trends continue into 2013, we could expect to see numbers potentially rising in the first half of this year which is potentially very positive news for the sector as a whole," he added.