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'Bulldoze 200 ghost estates'

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Junior minister Jan O'Sullivan,TD  at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke 15/11/12

Junior minister Jan O'Sullivan,TD at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke 15/11/12

Junior minister Jan O'Sullivan,TD at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke 15/11/12

SOME 200 ghost estates face being bulldozed under new plans being drawn up by the Housing Minister.

The country has been left with 1,100 unfinished developments since the property bubble burst in 2008 – many of which are in a dangerous state.

Junior Minister Jan O'Sullivan has admitted that up to 200 may be bulldozed as part of the plans to deal with ghost estates.

 

Finished

In an interview with the Herald, the Labour politician said that the vast majority of the country's ghost estates "can be finished and have to be finished".

At the height of the building boom in 2006, a total of 93,000 new houses and apartments were built, over four times the number completed in 1993.

This year, for the month of January alone, some 342 new houses were completed.

"What I'm trying to achieve in chairing the committee on unfinished estates, is that we get a resolution to get them finished," she said.

"But in ghost estates where nobody is living but there are still half-built houses, probably the best resolution is to demolish them."

According to the Minister, the bulldozing of estates would be done "in conjunction with the owners and with the local authority".

"But ultimately I can't force [their demolition], because they are private properties so I can't force anybody to do anything," she said.

"But we want to do it by consensus and we want to get a definite proposal and plan for each and every one of those unfinished estates some time later this year."

Meanwhile, Ms O'Sullivan has vowed to crack down on nightmare neighbours with new measures which will pave the way for local authorities to evict unruly tenants.

Ms O'Sullivan was responding to figures which show that over 2,200 complaints about criminality and anti-social behaviour were received by Dublin City Council last year.

 

Hell

She admitted that the lives of some families were "being made hell" by unruly behaviour.

And the Labour politician has pledged to "change the law" later this year to make it easier for councils to secure evictions.

As a result of a previous court challenge, councils believe a "legal uncertainty" has been created around the issue of evicting council tenants.

Just one householder was evicted in the city last year as a result of this – despite the major problem of anti social behaviour in council complexes.

Ms O'Sullivan told the Herald that she will publish new legislation which will pave the way for more evictions.

"The legislation will make it easier [for local authorities] to evict in those extreme circumstances. They are the extreme circumstances, I don't think we can expect wholesale evictions or anything like that but there are those extreme cases that that is the appropriate answer.

"I do support the local authorities having that ultimate sanction but, as I say, that doesn't mean they shouldn't do all of the other things that are needed to be done to address the problem," she said.

"And in fact the earlier they intervene the better because I think one of the problems is if people who are causing the problems are getting away with it, then they will escalate the kind of stuff that they do.

"Whereas if the council intervenes at a very early stage, with relatively low level anti-social behaviour, then you've a much better chance of controlling it."

As previously revealed by the Herald, plans by the State to fast-track the provision of houses from NAMA to local authorities are moving at a much slower pace than expected.

Some 263 properties have been transferred over since August – 110 of which have been made available in the first three months of the year.

The minister said this process must be sped up.

"I want to see it moving, because if these units are there, if they're empty and if there are people on housing waiting lists, I certainly want that that transfer takes place as soon as possible," she said.

Ms O'Sullivan said there are up to 100,000 people on waiting lists for social housing.

She said she is pushing for two "stimulus packages" – one of which will see the relaunch of construction for social housing, while the other will involve the "retro-fitting" of older local authority properties.

noconnor@herald.ie


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