independent

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Council can't build on their landbanks

Published 25/12/2013 | 05:20

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Louth County Council has landbanks at Dunleer, Louth Village and Kilkerley which it bought over the past decades but can't build houses on now due to a change in government policy.

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Head of Finance Ms Bernadette Woods said that at the time when the land was purchased, the Department was looking for local authorities to buy land and it was purchased to build social houses on for the citizens of the county.

However, the policy had since changed nationally.

Cllr Peter Savage favoured selling the land to voluntary housing associations, although he suggested holding onto it until such time as the value increases again and Cllr Martin Murnaghan said he would like to know the current value of the land.

Cllr Tómas Sharkey said that documents showed that the council had paid €1million for the land at Kilkerley event though management had advised against buying it at that price.

'We need to go back and see why we paid that price.'

He felt that the value of their assets was probably inflated as it was estimated on prices paid during the boom.

Cllr Jim Loughran was waiting three years for a list of the the council's assets and still hadn't received that information.

Hindsight was all very well, argued Cllr Finan McCoy, pointing out that at the time the land was bought 'a lot of councillors were rubbing their hands, telling people in Dunleer and Louth village that the council was going to build hundreds of houses for them.'

'We bought the land for the people of the county and the management made the right decision,' he declared. 'With hindsight I wouldn't blame any official on the management team for acting the way they did.'

Ms Woods said that a lot of their assets were bought in 2003 and were not equated to the prices of the boom times, which will be reflected in the balance sheet.

A new valuation of their assets was due but the Department had issued instructions as to when it is to take place.

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