Council not ‘pursuing errant developers’

Cork County Council successfully made claims against only two developers last year for not completing housing estate projects.

The county has 233 unfinished housing estates but the local authority managed to recoup only €163,938 last year under a Bonds Surety scheme.

The bond, usually put in place in advance of a project commencing, provides insurance in the event of a developer not completing scheduled works.

Elected members yesterday levelled criticism against the council after it was discovered, in the period from 2009-2011, there were only a further 10 successful claims totalling €417,948.

Claims paid out against five developers in 2010 totalled €161,000 and €93,000 was paid to the council the previous year for three developments.

The three uncompleted developments have since been taken in charge by the local authority.

In a report given to councillors, director of planning John O’Neill said lodging claims had resulted in many developers reactivating work and, as such, these claims had therefore not been pursued.

Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF), who requested the report, said it confirmed his suspicions the council was not rigorously pursuing developers who had left estates unfinished.

“Many residents are living in an impossible position where nobody’s responsible for even simple works within their estates,” Cllr McGrath said.

His party colleagues, Christopher O’Sullivan, Donal O’Rourke and Andrias Moynihan, said they are all aware of unfinished estates in their areas and urged council officials to be more aggressive about collecting bonds.

They quickly found support on the Fine Gael benches when Cllr Deirdre Forde said officials “should be wielding the stick at rogue developers” and Cllr Kevin Murphy demanded “stronger enforcement”.

Cllr Noel O’Connor (FG) described an unfinished estate in Killavullen, near Mallow, as being “in an unbelievable condition”.

Derry Canty (FG) said the Construction Federation Industry should be summoned to the council chamber to explain why several of their members had abdicated their responsibility.

“The CIF should be told to get their own house in order. They should be policing them. I’ve an estate in my own area which has remained unfinished for 25 years,” Cllr Canty said.

County manager Martin Riordan defended his staff saying, in many cases, the problem lay with financial institutions which would not release more money to builders to finish off projects.

He said the local authority was finishing off and taking in charge up to 50 estates a year.

Mr Riordan said there were “233 problematic estates in the county which is fairly limited considered development in the region”.

He said only six of them were regarded as category 4 — deemed as having health and safety issues.


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