Dozens of ‘ghost estates’ set to become greenfield sites

Dozens of barely-started ‘ghost estates’ could be turned into greenfield sites next year as the Government puts pressure on developers and their lenders to either finish them or knock them.

Although around 1,300 unfinished housing schemes still remain to be knocked, made safe or completed, the development could see around 40 of the most commercially unviable undergo entire site clearances.

The move follows identification by councils and the Department of the Environment some of the least marketable schemes and talks are now taking place with the owners of the sites and their financial institutions.

Although details of the locations or sizes of the undeveloped properties remain private, in many instances there may have been little or no construction before the projects were abandoned. However, there could have been some site works started or foundations laid for some of the homes before work stopped.

“We’re not issuing ultimatums, we’re just putting forward proposals in relation to around 40 sites, where it has been deemed there is no possible market for the houses if they were completed,” a spokesperson for Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan said.

It is hoped that work could begin in early 2014 on the site clearance projects, once agreement has been reached with lenders and owners.

However, a lot of work remains to be done on the wider ghost estate problem, despite more than half of the 2,800-plus housing developments that were unfinished in 2010 now being completed, unstarted phases abandoned, or the sites completely cleared.

It is hoped that a €10m fund announced in last month’s budget by Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin will boost progress by helping to complete footpaths, drainage and roads in schemes where developer bonds were unavailable or insufficient for the local council to carry out the works.

“There has been progress but as long as there are people living in unfinished estates, we will work as hard as possible to resolve the issues,” the minister’s spokes- person said.


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