Kildare residents ‘living in fear’ in fire-risk estate call for funds

Residents of a Co Kildare housing estate at the centre of fire safety and building concerns have called on the Government to provide funding for a full safety audit and the cost of any repairs.

Kildare residents ‘living in fear’ in fire-risk estate call for funds

A delegation of home-owners from Millfield Manor, Newbridge, which met with Alan Kelly, the environment minister, last week, claim they cannot afford to pay for remedial work estimated at up to €30,000 per dwelling.

Concerns about the safety of homes in the mixed- development of 79 houses and 129 apartments have intensified following a fire on March 31 when a terrace of six houses was completely gutted in the space of around 30 minutes.

A subsequent report commissioned by Kildare County Council found “numerous deficiencies” in a survey of 10 unoccupied houses on the estate. In particular, timber-frame separating walls were inadequately completed at attic and lower floor levels.

A spokesperson for the Millfield Manor residents said families were “living in fear.” They were also concerned they would be unable to sell their properties until remedial work to allow the properties to comply with building regulations was complete.

However, the residents described last week’s meeting with Mr Kelly as “positive.”

The group said the minister had given undertakings to pursue issues including matters relating to professional indemnity insurance, the role of Kildare County Council, and the release of house documentation at no cost to the homeowner.

Residents are also believed to be angered at denials by council representatives that the local authority has any responsibility for planning and building standards for homes in the development.

Although building control officials with Kildare County Council carried out over 20 inspections on Millfield Manor during its construction phase between 2005 and 2009, no major problems were identified.

A council spokesperson said the building control code relied to a significant extent on the statutory responsibility of practitioners in the construction industry to design and construct buildings in accordance with regulations.

“The random inspections undertaken by building control authorities are essentially supplementary to this primary statutory obligation,” she said.

The spokesperson said the council had exceeded the target level of inspections — which was 12% to 15% of new buildings notified to local authorities in commencement notices — during the construction phase.

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