Tuesday 26 September 2017

Beat the housing list queue − move into a 'ghost' estate

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Up to 1,000 families on the social housing waiting list could be housed in former ghost estates over the next two years, the head of the State's housing agency has said.

More than 23,000 housing units in almost 3,000 unfinished housing developments nationwide that were largely uninhabitable and vacant in 2010 are now completed and fit to live in. Among the units are 4,453 completed houses that are currently lying vacant.

Housing Agency CEO John O'Connor is hopeful that 1,000 families stuck on waiting lists can be accommodated in the newly finished homes.

"There has been huge progress over the past five years," Mr O'Connor said of the effort of local authorities, private developers and receivers - including Nama - in fixing up and completing unfinished housing estates across the country.

There are currently 992 'unfinished' housing developments around the country, of which 766 already have some residents.

Among 2,600 Nama-owned unfinished estates, 708 properties have been completed, while another 300 are in the process of completion.

Mr O'Connor said the agency has set a target of completing another 500 units this year and another 500 in 2016, all of which would be turned over to social housing.

But he warned only a portion of the entire stock of completed unfinished units would be used to house people on waiting lists. Approximately 1,000 of the completed units will be set aside for social housing over the next two years.

However, Mr O'Connor admits this will not put a dent in the 90,000 figure of those on the social housing list nationwide, or have much of an impact on the overall housing market or shortage of homes in the capital.

"We still need to be developing new housing and building between 7,000 and 8,000 new homes over the next five years," he told the Sunday Independent.

However, there is still a lot of potential for future development at existing housing estates due to a significant amount of undeveloped land that was given planning permission for residential development, but was never developed in the wake of property crash.

This includes tracts of undeveloped land in existing housing estates in several sought-after areas of north county Dublin and south Dublin. Mr O'Connor also urged homeowners who are currently living in unfinished estates to keep pressure on their local authorities or property owners to ensure that their housing issues are addressed.

"People may think it's resolved but we need to keep pushing," he said.

"There are quite a number of developments with residents who are still affected and in some cases, living in difficult circumstances."

The Housing Agency boss said that while the majority of unfinished housing estates have been fixed up over the past four years to meet basic requirements, there are still many developments with spaces that are derelict or houses that were only half built.

"When the parties sit down together and are proactive, it's been very successful," he said of the site resolution process involving residents, local authorities, builders and receivers.

"But the danger is if it gets put on the back-burner."

Sunday Independent

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