Thursday 18 January 2018

Demolition begins at ghost estate where toddler died

Demolition work at the Glenatore 'ghost' estate in Athlone
Demolition work at the Glenatore 'ghost' estate in Athlone
Flowers attached to a perimeter fence at the site offer a sad reminder of the tragic fate that befell little Liam Keogh there two years ago
Liam Keogh
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

DEMOLITION work has begun on an unfinished section of an estate where a two-year-old drowned.

Liam Keogh died in February 2012 after wandering through a hole in the fence at Glenatore estate in Athlone, Co Westmeath, and falling into a pool of water

Athway Construction, which is headed by local man Tony Diskin and businessman Aidan Connolly, began pulling down more than a dozen buildings located in a significant segment of the scheme which has been deemed unviable.

The move comes in the same week that Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan announced a plan to demolish 40 of worst ghost estates next year.

It also follows a court ruling last month which ordered that remedial works should start on the Glenatore estate.

This was issued after Westmeath County Council took legal action against Athway over an alleged failure to carry out a previous planning enforcement notice to carry out these works.

At a sitting of Athlone District Court last month, the developers gave a commitment to carry out an agreed list of works by the end of March next year.

Following the death of Liam Keogh, families in the adjoining Rindoon estate related how they had been living in fear that their children would wander onto the site, which one described as a "death trap".

Little Liam had run onto the site to follow his pet dog. At the time, pictures of the site showed an area strewn with barbed wire, broken tiles, rusty metal and marshy pools of stagnant water

A source at Westmeath County Council told the Irish Independent that the council had given the developers a comprehensive list of work to be carried out.

He said that once these works had been carried out, the council would then be prepared to take the estate in hand.

The developers were granted permission for 66 homes in 2005, a good number of them in apartment blocks. But by 2011 it was reported that just five properties were occupied.

The Department of the Environment has been working with local authorities to identify estates with no commercial viability and council officials have been in touch with the property developers and their banks to draw up plans for dealing with the worst cases.

A spokesman for Ms O'Sullivan said owners were now considering whether to comply with requests by the local authorities to clear the sites or propose alternative plans to deal with them.

But even as the demolition got under way at Glenatore, a local estate agents firm was busy marketing the salvaged units in the estate which have now been finished out.

The literature describes them as: "An exclusive development superbly located close to Lough Ree in Coosan," and as "one of the most prestigious residential areas in Athlone".

Irish Independent

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