Construction upturn gets estates finished in Cork

The upturn in housing construction is leading to a large number of previously unfinished estates being completed in Co Cork.

That is according to the council’s senior planner, Andrew Hind, who said that, in 2010, there were 296 unfinished estates in the county, but that figure had now been whittled down to 54.

There are 28 in North Cork, 22 in South Cork, and just four in West Cork.

Mr Hind said several new owners had come on board in these estates and they had taken on fixing defects left by the previous developer.

The senior planner said the construction upturn had not reached North Cork as quickly as other parts of the county, but was kicking in now, and he said he was confident that the number of unfinished estates in that region would be down to single figures next year.

Mr Hind said a lot of progress was being made in resolving outstanding issues in the region.

He said he hopes that a number of bonds held by financial institutions for developers who have gone out of business would shortly be paid out to enable the council to finish off work.

“The upturn in the housing market has increased the rates at which sites are being resolved,” said Mr Hind. :The difficulties are in getting the bonds released. Many are now very old documents taken out in the middle of the last decade and there’s potential legal problems with the wording.”

Mr Hind said the bond providers were becoming “increasingly keen to settle and get them off their books”, adding that said the council could go to the High Court to force the issue, but that carries substantial risks as it could lose the case and be faced with substantial costs.

Mr Hind said that while progress was being made he acknowledged that “it mightn’t be as quick as some residents [of the unfinished estates] would like”.

While councillor Ian Doyle welcomed news that a new owner was likely to address deficiencies at the ‘The Pastures’ in Charleville, he was concerned about a dangerous situation in the same town at the Lios na Rí estate.

“There are four [unfinished] houses there in a very dangerous condition,” said Mr Doyle. “It’s an accident waiting to happen. The site is completely open and there are young children playing there. I can see a bad accident happening. There’s a pallet of blocks piled 10ft high on rotten timber.”

Assistant county manager James Fogarty said that, yesterday morning, the council had decided it would move in to make the site safe.

Councillor Gerard Murphy said he was glad to see overall progress.

“There was a real mess 10 years ago [with unfinished estates] and the council has had an enormous job trying to deal with banks and liquidators. It was a quagmire of legalities,” said Mr Murphy.

Mr Fogarty said that, in future, he would ensure councillors got regular updates on unfinished estates.

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