Friday 23 March 2018

Site is so bad it has household charge exemption

Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent

THE estate where a two-year-old boy drowned yesterday is so unfinished that families living there are exempt from the €100 household charge.

It is one of more than a thousand so-called 'ghost estates' that dot the country, many in the north-west and midlands, where families share their street with unfinished houses and building-site conditions.

And the Irish Independent has learned that unfinished Glenatore, at Clonbrusk, Athlone, Co Westmeath, was one of the 1,300 estates identified as being in urgent need of completion.

Inspectors from the Department of the Environment carried out an inspection of the estate last August.

After that, and following enforcement proceedings taken by Westmeath County Council, an application was made by developers Athway Construction for retention permission to finish off the works, including roads, paths and landscapes.

Brendan McGettigan, Athway's architect, said yesterday that work had stopped as the time limit for the planning permission had run out.

Any new work required a new permission and the planning application was lodged with Athone Town Council on December 13 last year.

Glenatore, an estate with 63 houses and apartments, has just five houses occupied and 13 are empty, while work has not yet started on a further 15.

A total of 12 apartments are vacant, 12 are under construction, but six have not yet been started.

While Glenatore is on the list of 1,300 unfinished ghost estates, it is not classified as being one of the very worst, as the developer is still intending to do the required work.

However, it is classed as category three in four categories of unfinished estates. Category four is regarded as being the worst.

Meanwhile, category one is where the developer is in the process of completing the development and category two is where a receiver has been appointed.

The ghost estates report recommended that local authorities who cannot get developers to finish ghost housing estates should do the work themselves and then pass on the bill.

Local authorities can draw down €5m from a government emergency fund set up to help make the so-called ghost estates safer for residents, including children. The money was to be used by local authorities to close open manholes and sewers, turn on street lighting, fill in excavations and close off dangerous areas.

Irish Independent

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