Anger at plans to build in ghost estate

PLANNERS have cleared the way for further housing on an estate where residents have lived for three years with unfinished roads, incomplete public lighting and inadequately secured construction sites.

The decision by Athy Town Council to allow further development at Gallow Hill estate in Athy has angered residents who claim the developer, JDL Construction, has left the site in a “dangerous and unfinished state”.

In one of 27 objections to the developer’s proposal to build eight additional homes at Gallow Hill, one resident said: “Approval of this application is tantamount to endorsing the dangerous and reckless abandonment of site works.”

Photographs show unsecured fencing around partially constructed homes, mounds of builders’ debris and unkempt gardens in houses that failed to sell.

However when Athy Town Council’s executive planner inspected the site last November prior to recommending the developer be granted planning permission, he said there had been “significant improvements in the level of landscaping to date within this overall development”.

“Following a site visit, it can be concluded that the developer has made every effort to secure and finish the development in an orderly fashion,” the planner wrote in his report.

“Any unfinished areas have been fenced off and the site is kept relatively tidy,” he added.

Noting the 27 objections on file, he said each had been dealt with to the satisfaction of the planning authority. He recommended the developer be given permission to build eight semi-detached houses at Gallow Hill to add to the existing estate. The original permission was for six detached homes.

Gallow Hill resident Maria Adams, mother of Bridget, Declan, and Catherine, said they were disgusted the council was permitting further development.

“It’s very frustrating. Since we moved in 2007, nothing has been done. I am still looking out on the shells of three unfinished houses, gardens are not maintained, sections of footpath unfinished, the green area out front is without public lighting. It really has been left very shoddily,” Maria said.

One of the objectors to the proposed development describes the green area as “not an open space, but a grassed landfill site with steep slopes, rendering it useless for recreation”.

JDL, in its submission, argued the estate was “currently under construction” and, “due to the economic slowdown and meltdown of the banking system, progress on site, similar to all developments in Ireland, has slowed”.

Five years ago, the Adams were renting in Bray, Co Wicklow. In August 2007, they moved to a four-bed detached house in Athy that set them back €385,000.

It should have been their dream home but instead Maria worries daily for the safety of her children as they play alongside builders’ debris. The houses either side have never been occupied. She cannot shake the sense of living on a building site.

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