Ghost estates special report: ‘Whatever we do is fruitless, because this eyesore drags everything down’

Local residents at the unfinished section of houses at The Beaches estate in the Co Cork village. Picture: Larry Cummins
Local residents at the unfinished section of houses at The Beaches estate in the Co Cork village. Picture: Larry Cummins

An ‘eyesore’ section of a ghost estate is constantly hampering community efforts to better the area.

That’s the view of tidy town’s stalwart, Margaret Murphy.

For the last 40 years, she and countless other volunteers have improved the community in and around the north Cork village of Boherbue.

But she said the unfinished section of the Beeches housing estate, on the outskirts of the village, has dragged the community down over the last six years, and made life miserable for the people living in the finished part of the estate.

“The unfinished section is an eyesore and it’s commented on every year by judges in the Tidy Towns competition, and it’s just so frustrating for us, and for the people living in the estate, because we can’t do a thing about it. It’s out of our hands,” she said.

“Whatever we do is fruitless, because the condition of this estate drags everything down.”

Permission was granted at the height of the boom for the construction of 66 homes on a green-field site where cattle once grazed.

But by 2011, only 40 houses had been completed, with footpaths and sewer works unfinished.

Today, about a third are occupied, another third have been bought for occupation, but a third remain unfinished.

It has been a nightmare for local residents and county council officials have failed to resolve the various issues.

Ms Murphy said it has been a very frustrating process.

“We have been promised that something is being done, but nothing seems to be happening. This is going on so long,” she said.

“We have a great village, fantastic schools, a nursing home, a creche, a doctor, a chemist. It’s a very vibrant community, but this estate is an eyesore.”

Peadar O’Callaghan, chairman of Boherbue Community Development Association, said the unfinished section looks like a “bombed-out disaster zone”.

“It’s an awful vista, especially coming in from the Kanturk side. You do the best you can to improve the village, but this is fairly depressing, especially for the people living in the occupied section, to be looking out at that,” he said.

“The unfinished homes have gone beyond all redemption. It would be a huge bonus for the whole village, if they were demolished.

“We’ve been watching and waiting, waiting and watching, and some of the promises about progress haven’t been delivered by the deadlines.”

Local Cllr Bernard Moynihan, who has been trying to resolve the Beeches issue since 2011, said he is “embarrassed and frustrated” by the lack of visible progress on the ground.

“It’s been incredibly slow. I’m incredibly frustrated about this situation — it looks as if the whole thing is tied up in bureaucracy,” he said.

“We have a very active tidy towns committee and development association here, and they were meeting again last week to discuss ways of improving the village. They’ve planted flower beds, painted parts of the village, and here we have this eyesore estate dragging everything down.

“I expected several of the unfinished homes to be demolished and for the place to be landscaped.

“But, instead, it’s been a total disaster. I understand that a substantial bond has been paid over, but still there’s no progress.”

A spokesperson for Cork County Council said the receiver for the estate is selling the development to a new developer, and it is understood that the terms have been agreed.

“The county council intend to utilise the bond monies that it holds to help fund appropriate remedial works by the new developer, once the sale has been completed in four to six weeks’ time.”

Mr O’Callaghan said the residents are living in hope that an end is in sight.

“It’s just the slowness of the process. It seems to be one legal objection after another, throwing the whole thing off, in terms of expectation of when this will be dealt with. But we’re living in hope,” he said.


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