The number of building permits granted in France has dropped by almost 30% in the past 12 months, figures show, in a trend that has been gathering momentum since 2010, with minor exceptions.
In total, 371,300 permits were granted over the past 12 months, a year-on-year drop of 28.3%, figures from the Ministry for the Ecological Transition released on October 27 show.
This comes after a record number granted in 2022. Since then, the number of permits granted per month has fallen and stabilised at a much lower level, with the number of new housing projects now ‘at the lowest level since 2010’, said the Fédération des promoteurs immobiliers in May.
The number of new building projects - which typically follow that of permits by a few months - also fell sharply, with 315,800 new starts over the same 12 months, a drop of 16.6%.
All types of housing were affected: single-family homes (down 31.8%), grouped single-family homes including housing estates (down 27.6%), multiple-family homes (down 28.3%), and residences for students and senior citizens (down 19.7%).
New builds are also suffering due to decreased purchasing power coupled with increased construction costs. Construction costs are still high, partly as a result of fallout from the Covid pandemic, and also supply issues due to the war in Ukraine. Increased environmental regulations have also made construction more difficult and costly.
Inflation and soaring interest rates have also priced many - especially first-time buyers - out of the market.
Developers have also said that they are struggling to get mayors to grant planning permission, as the mayors are under pressure from residents who do not want new buildings in their area.
But some mayors have limited building permits for another reason; water shortages. In March, authorities in nine communes in Var (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) decided that they could not currently accommodate any new residents nor allow any new building projects – with the water that this requires – to take place.
The moratorium will last up to four years, the communes have said, in the context of the ongoing drought situation across much of France, which is particularly severe in Var.