Tuesday 10 December 2019

Pity victims of ghost estates

THERE could be no more stark evidence of the stupidity that underwrote the property bubble than today's revelation that developers were given millions in tax breaks to build thousands of homes that nobody wanted.

There could be no more graphic symbol of the social devastation wrought by the property crash than the thousands of unfinished housing estates lying empty all over the country.

Tax breaks and other incentives fuelled a building frenzy that has rendered Ireland's recession deeper than most, and the banks were happy to jump on the bandwagon, with today's crippling consequences.

There are more than 2,800 of these 'ghost estates', according to the Department of the Environment. They are so numerous that a five-month county-by-county survey was required.

It has found that building had begun on 120,000 homes in what are now ghost estates. Of these, some 77,000 are completed and occupied and 33,000 are completed and vacant, or nearly completed.

A task force has been set up to work out what is to be done about a problem that has littered the country with ugly symbols of a mad gold rush that came to a shuddering halt.

Sympathy must go out to those people who moved into probably their first home, full of optimism, and looking forward to life in a happy, busy neighbourhood.

Instead, they find themselves in negative equity, surrounded by bleak shells, not knowing whether their estate will ever be completed, or is destined some day to be bulldozed.

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