THE Government is to introduce a series of measures to tackle the growing problem of ghost and unfinished estates which have blighted many parts of the country.
Following an Irish Examiner investigation the Government has revealed it is drawing up a strategic plan, including the possible introduction of laws, for local authorities to ensure developers responsible for ghost estates are held accountable.
A team of planning and housing experts will carry out an assessment of the problem across the country, to be completed by the end of the summer. The report will detail:
* Overall number of housing developments.
* Volume of completed and occupied developments.
* Number of units ready for sale.
* Volume of units near completion.
* Number of units at specific early stages of construction or not started at all.
In extreme cases, developers or owners of sites may be compelled to demolish partly completed or deteriorating developments. However, Minister of State Ciarán Cuffe said bulldozers won’t be the only solution.
“We must put the expertise of planners and architects to work in transforming these estates where possible into sustainable communities that people are happy and proud to live in.
“There are a range of measures available under a number of pieces of legislation, including planning, derelict sites, litter and public health, that local authorities can use to ensure that problems that are identified are resolved.
“The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill, which is currently before the Dáil, will incorporate practical measures such as reform of the means by which the duration of planning permissions and securities for the satisfactory completion of developments can be extended,” he said.
By the end of the summer, every local authority will have a strategy to deal with any uncompleted housing development in their area, he said.
National housing association Respond said knocking houses should be the very last resort. Spokeswoman Aoife Walsh said an analysis of all ghost estates and empty properties is needed before options are considered.
“At the moment we are receiving conflicting reports on how many empty properties are located throughout the country, with numbers ranging from 40,000 to 345,000. With housing need at its greatest in living memory, NAMA needs to engage with the social housing sector. With so many empty houses, there is an opportunity now to significantly reduce the estimated 100,000 families on local authority housing waiting lists.”
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