The latest annual survey of unfinished housing developments shows the existence of ghost estates remains a problem in each of the country’s 34 local authority areas.
However, the number of unfinished estates has fallen by 30% since the previous survey as problems with another 553 housing estates have been resolved over the past 12 months and they are now classified as “substantially complete”.
Nevertheless, just 42 of these have been taken in charge by the relevant local authority.
The figures reveal that almost 80% of unfinished developments have someone living in them and they are home to 39,783 households. There are also 6,370 housing units complete but vacant on ghost estates, with a further 14,446 units in various stages of completion.
Construction work is only ongoing on 135 of the 1,258 unfinished housing developments.
A total of 863 ghost estates, which are home to 32,000 families, have no sign of any building activity.
Welcoming the reduction in the number of unfinished developments, Housing Minster Jan O’Sullivan said the problem had more than halved in the past three years, while public safety had improved at many sites.
Ms O’Sullivan said local authorities were continuing to pursue developers and interested parties to comply with their obligations under planning regulations.
Enforcement proceedings are ongoing in relation to 377 developments.
She also confirmed that 40 unfinished estates have been earmarked for demolition, although the identity of these locations has not been made known.
Ms O’Sullivan said the affected developments were generally unoccupied, incomplete, and in areas where there was no real demand for housing.
She stressed that they only accounted for 3% of all unfinished developments and clearance of such sites was the “most sustainable thing to do” and would involve no expenditure of public money.
Residents living on such estates would be provided with alternative accommodation, said Ms O’Sullivan
She acknowledged that resolving the remaining estates was a complex process
Cork County Council is the local authority with the highest number of ghost estates, with 154 unfinished developments — over 12% of the total. It is followed by Kerry (80), Donegal (77), Wexford (77), and Cavan (60).
The five city councils in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, and Dublin have the least number of problematic estates, with just four each in Cork and Limerick.
Around €4.5m has been spent on public safety works on 159 estates to date, while local authorities will also have access to a €10m special resolution fund, announced in the recent budget, for improvements in the infrastructure of unfinished developments.
More than €25.5m has been drawn down in bonds covering the remaining 1,258 ghost estates, although the total value of the bonds is €189m.
The Department of Environment admitted that 79 developments had no specific bonds in their planning permission, while bonds worth €49.9m had expired in relation to a further 224 developments.