Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Penrose urges ghost estate action

Housing Minister Willie Penrose has warned banks and developers over ghost estates

Housing Minister Willie Penrose has warned banks and developers they can not "sit on the fence" over the scourge of ghost estates.

A new taskforce is being set up in the next two weeks to oversee a masterplan to clean up developments left half-finished and half-empty by the property crash.

Mr Penrose said he will head the national co-ordination committee which will implement the recommendations of a report by a Government advisory group on resolving the issue.

But it will be up to a year before any progress on the taskforce is published, according to the housing minister.

The advisory group report, Resolving Ireland's Unfinished Housing Estates, found there were 23,250 completed homes which remain vacant while nearly another 10,000 were almost complete.

It has urged formal links between developers, lenders, residents, local authorities, housing bodies and the Government to work together on the problem.

It also recommends local authorities prioritise selected unfinished developments as flagship projects to show what can be done.

Mr Penrose said there was no silver bullet but he insisted it was not an option to sit back and do nothing.

"I anticipate that everybody will get involved in resolving the problems," he said. "If there is any reluctance or tardiness or delay or obfuscation or procrastination they will be hit with the Derelict Sites Act and other legislation where required."

Mr Penrose demanded "action now without delay" and ordered those directly involved with stalled or troubled developments "not to sit on the fence" but instead work together to improve the lives of those living in the worst-hit estates.

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