HALF-built houses in unfinished estates should be torn down and the land handed over to the county council for public use, a local councillor believes.
Cllr Jerome Scanlan has called for a new, stringent audit of all unfinished estates in County Limerick in a bid to determine how much work needs to be done, and how much it is likely to cost.
However the council’s acting head of planning, Gerry Sheeran, said that the local authority “are not shirking” their responsibilities to residents, even if that means taking on board massive losses and liabilities left behind by bust developers.
Cllr Scanlan said that despite attempts to tackle the unfinished estate problem on a local and national level, many residents are still facing limbo as estates are subject to enforcement action or pass into the ownership of banks or NAMA.
“What I’d like to see, ideally, is a full audit of each estate in terms of their completion, where they are in terms of how long is left on their planning, and then - very importantly - the status of their ownership”, Cllr Scanlan said. “All of these issues are a major concern to people who have invested in these estates by buying homes.”
Last year’s National Housing Development survey listed a total of 67 unfinished and incomplete housing developments in County Limerick. In 2011 Limerick County Council spent €105,000 in grants from the Department of Environment on tackling urgent health and safety concerns at five unfinished estates.
This year the council plans to spend a further €150,000 of its own money on roads, lighting, sewers and other basic works left unfinished by developers who are subject to prosecution for breach of planning.
Cllr Scanlan said that if the council is forced to take charge of unfinished estates, it could leave itself open to liabilities if problems with these developments arise in future.
As such, he said that where feasible the council should liaise with residents and ultimately seek to demolish skeleton houses, and use the land for community amenities.
“There is an opinion, certainly from the people who I’ve spoken to in these estates, that houses which are incomplete should be taken down,” he said.
For more, see this weekend’s Limerick Leader, print edition