Sunday 25 February 2018

West Cork development saved from turning into ghost estate by local group

Glengariff estate
Glengariff estate
Glengariff estate

Kathleen O'Sullivan

A development in West Cork has saved from turning into a ghost estate by the work of a local group of people.

The development, originally built as a holiday village, near Glengarriff, in West Cork, was bought by the team, the Glengarriff Mountain View Management Company Ltd.

They bought the unfinished estate complete with leisure centre and pool in 2011 with the intention of furnishing the buildings and surroundings.

The group spent a significant amount of time and resources over the past five years in a bid to comply with planning permissions while the 14 houses were worked on. They say that they now believe the estate is ready to be given to the local authority.

And they hope this might promote similar work to be carried out in other abandoned housing estates across the country.

Originally, the 23-house Mountain View estate was built to be used as a holiday village near Glengarriff. But just nine of the homes were sold before the Anglo Irish Bank-funded Limerick Development partnership ran out of money and the remaining 14 houses and landscape left unfurnished.

These 14 houses were eventually placed on the market and stayed there for two years until a group of 14 private mortgage-free buyers who were interested in buying the development were gathered by Barry McSweeney, the first science advisor to the Government.

Mr McSweeney, who died in 2014, said at the time of the deal: “" had seen the scheme being built and was impressed, but the developers just ran out of money to finish it.

"I didn’t want a ghost estate or a Famine village on Glengarriff’s doorstep, and decided to do something about it instead."

Speaking to the Irish Examiner about the experience, Owen Dinneen, a spokesman for the residents of the Mountain View estate, said: “We’ve ticked every box and we are hopeful that certificates of compliance will be issued soon by Cork County Council.

“Now that we’re at the end of the road, we are looking forward to the council taking this beautiful estate in charge.”

The team started their work by applying for planning permission to Cork County Council for permission to change the use of the dwellings, which were permitted in 2004 for managed short-term holiday rental, to dwelling houses with unrestricted occupancy.

The number of ghost estates in Ireland has greatly dropped in Ireland in the past few years.

In 2010, over 3,000 unfinished housing estates were identified across the country. Around 2,580 have been resolved.

Nama is now in charge of just 15 unfinished estates.

In March, it was reported that there are 291 housing estates where more then 8,600 households were living alongside uncompleted building.

Kerry and Cork are two counties with the highest number of ghost estates in Ireland.

Fine Gael Councillor for Killarney Bobby O’Connell pointed out that the existence of ghost estates all comes down to planning.

“There are so many ghost estates existing in Kerry due to poor planning.

“I wouldn’t necessarily blame the County Council in any county for it.

“When it has been evident on many previous occasions that the initial planning permission for housing would be refused for an area, then the councillors come together and present a “140 plan” to the Manager.

“As a result, planning permission is often given for areas where it really shouldn’t be, in areas where the work is sure to be abandoned.”

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