Irish News

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Councils get €10m to finish work in 992 ghost estates

Paul Melia

Published 17/01/2014|02:30

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Jan O'Sullivan, Minister  for Housing and Planning. Photo: Tom Burke
Jan O'Sullivan, Minister for Housing and Planning. Photo: Tom Burke

SOME €10m will be made available to local authorities to finish works in almost 1,000 ghost estates across the country -- but some could still end up being demolished.

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Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan has asked city and county councils to submit proposals to resolve problems in 992 developments.

Funds will be made available to finish roads, footpaths, public lighting and open spaces.

It is envisaged that works funded under the so-called Special Resolution Fund will improve the overall appearance of estates and help attract investment from developers or other funders to complete any unfinished houses.

Once the money is drawn down and receivers complete works, it is hoped that the vast bulk of the improvements needed to complete developments will come to an end.

However, the department has not ruled out demolishing developments which have no future and which are largely unoccupied. It is not clear when these demolition works will take place.

UNOCCUPIED

Many developments are "in limbo", Ms O'Sullivan said, because the lack of public infrastructure had deterred buyers from expressing an interest in purchasing homes.

Some €5m has already been spent carrying out safety works in 159 ghost estates by the Department of the Environment, while NAMA and receivers have also made improvements.

In addition, a further €25m has been spent finishing other developments, but there are concerns that housing units in some estates will never be completed unless roads and other public infrastructure are put in place to help attract buyers.

"Since 2010 there has been a 56pc decrease in the number of unfinished developments. However, there are still families living in 992 across the country," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"I am determined to maintain the momentum achieved to date to ensure that work continues to address the concerns of families in this situation.

"The vast majority of unfinished estates are resolved by the developer/funder, who agrees a plan to resolve issues on an estate. This may often involve scaling back on the original plans while ensuring that the units that are complete can be occupied.

"However, as we work to resolve this issue once and for all, there are a cohort of very problematic estates where, as things stand, there is little prospect of resolution.

"This fund is intended to give these estates, where there are residents present, a realistic hope of resolution."

The funding was announced in Budget 2014 and Ms O'Sullivan said applications should be lodged with the Department of the Environment by February 28 next.

Irish Independent

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