Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Ghost estates face funds shortage

A so-called 'ghost estate' in Dublin

Boom time developers did not lodge enough security money to complete 2,800 unfinished housing estates littered around the country, the Government has confirmed.

Housing Minister Michael Finneran said bonds - cash handed over to authorities to guarantee developments are safely completed - generally just cover footpaths and street lighting.

"I don't think it was ever intended that bonds would be for actually finishing out housing developments," he said. "So the bonds will not be adequate in most cases to deal with the issue of finishing out estates."

Both Mr Finneran and Planning Minister Ciaran Cuffe insisted the scale of so-called ghost estates was not as bad as previously suggested by independent academic research.

A state-wide survey ordered by their departments found there were 2,846 housing developments begun in the last five years that were never finished.

Initial findings showed: More than 78,000 homes had been competed and are occupied; Over 23,000 are finished but lie empty; Around 20,000 houses and apartments are unfinished, half of them nearly completed and the other half just begun.

Mr Finneran and Mr Cuffe have set up a "high-level expert group" to advise local authorities on ensuring the completion of estates.

John O'Connor, of the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency, will head up the group, which will include government, the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) and banking, construction and planning representatives.

It is expected to meet for the first time within the coming weeks.

The group will have to come up with suggestions on where the funding will come from to complete the ghost estates.

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