Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Number of ghost estates declining

Nearly two-thirds of Ireland's ghost estates are in dire need of development

Almost two-thirds of the country's 1,770 ghost estates are in a seriously problematic condition, it has been revealed.

New data showed the number of unfinished developments has fallen in recent years, but 1,100 estates remain in dire need of development.

Just a fraction of those are expected to be bulldozed despite lacking basic services like roads, street lights and sewage treatment systems.

Jan O'Sullivan, Minister for Housing and Planning, said the latest national housing development survey revealed steady, quantifiable progress in tackling unfinished housing developments but she was "still keenly aware that hundreds of families are still enduring the stress and strain of living on an unfinished development."

An inspection off 185,665 houses and apartments in 2,973 developments found: 1,770 estates were unfinished, down 37% since 2010 when the first survey was carried out; 1,100 of these were in a seriously problematic condition; 6,154 properties have been completed and occupied within the year;16,881 finished homes were still vacant;1,200 developments previously included in the survey will be removed because they are either substantially complete or development never commenced.

Elsewhere it showed the county of Leitrim had the worst vacancy rate, with 35 empty units per 1,000 households, followed by Longford with 30, Cavan with 26, Sligo with 19 and Roscommon with 17, compared with just two in Waterford and Limerick cities.

Ms O'Sullivan said the focus of the Government's actions will shift to resolving the most problematic developments, adding that recent experience showed how a realistic approach to estate completion involving all stakeholders can deliver results.

"However it must also be recognised that some of these developments are commercially unviable due to location, demand and build quality," she said.

"The most prudent course of action in relation to these developments from a public safety, planning and commercial perspective is to seek the agreement of owners/funders to clear the site and return it to some beneficial use."

Ms O'Sullivan said her department hopes to have a plan in place to deal with the issue by next summer.

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