Group-purchase residents hit out at delay in taking over estate

Residents who saved an unfinished holiday village from becoming a derelict ghost estate have criticised delays in taking the estate in charge.

Group-purchase residents hit out at delay in taking over estate

Individuals behind the ‘group-purchase’ of homes in the Mountain View estate just outside Glengarriff in West Cork, said they have met every condition imposed and ticked every box, but still see no light at the end of the tunnel.

“We have jumped through every hoop — some of those hoops felt at times that they were on fire — but there is still no sign that the estate will be taken in charge by Cork County Council,” said residents’ spokesman Owen Dineen.

The Irish Examiner highlighted the case last summer as an example of how other vacant or distressed holiday developments could be saved from becoming ghost estates, and a burden on local authorities.

Planning was granted in 2004 for the construction of a leisure centre and a total of 23 holiday homes for short-term rental at Mountain View.

Nine houses were sold but the Anglo-funded development partnership ran out of money during the crash.

While the remaining houses were built, the interiors and landscaping were largely unfinished and the complex failed as a viable enterprise.

Following a lengthy legal process, attempts to sell most of the distressed properties through a receiver failed. Prices for the four-star rental homes were around €150,000.

Then, in mid-2011, Barry McSweeney, the first science advisor to the Government, put together a group of 14 private mortgage-free buyers, some with links to Glengarrif, who were interested in buying the development.

With the help of a local auctioneer, John O’Neill of Celtic Properties, they sealed a group-purchase deal with the receiver — leisure centre included — in late 2012.

Each buyer paid around €75,000 for the three-bedroom houses, but each buyer faced a minimum €10,000 bill to finish them off.

The buyers then embarked on a lengthy process to finish the estate so that it could be taken in charge by Cork County Council.

They secured planning permission to change the use of the properties from short-term rental to dwelling houses, and among the conditions imposed was that they form a management company, which would be held legally responsible for the maintenance of the estate, its lighting, roads, and footpaths.

They even had to surface with tar a 250 sq m section of the N71 which leads from the estate to the village.

Mr Dineen said that once the conditions were met, they formally applied to the council to take the estate in charge.

The council told them last June that it must ascertain the condition of the estate infrastructure, including CCTV surveys and reports in relation to its sewer network, and a water audit report on the condition of its water main network.

“Any such remedial works as deemed to be necessary by the council, and or Irish Water engineers, must be completed by the management company for the estate,” the council said.

Mr Dineen said they have heard nothing official since last June.

“If we knew what the problem was, then maybe we could set about fixing it,” he said.

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