Sunday 30 May 2010

List of unfinished unoccupied or estates ready by 'mid-year'

A NATIONAL list of all unfinished or unoccupied housing estates will be completed “in the middle of the year”, according to Minister of State for the Environment Ciarán Cuffe.

The Minister told the Dáil that he had recently received the report of a pilot exercise with Laois County Council to establish the number and type of unfinished houses and estates within the authority’s remit and the national list was expected by mid-year.

Pressed by Terence Flanagan (FG, Dublin North East) about the exact date for the completion of the list, Mr Cuffe declined to be drawn, but claimed that Fine Gael councillors were still putting forward “mad ideas for rezoning”.

“The goose that laid the golden egg is long gone and it would be constructive” if Fine Gael thought carefully “about sustainable planning rather than rezoning land as the solution to our economic woes”.

During environment questions, Mr Cuffe said the Laois report classified the different types of unfinished estates. They included those with incomplete paths, lighting, parks and green spaces, as well as those where some houses were completed but others still under construction. Also categorised were estates with half-built units.

The Minister wrote to city and county managers a fortnight ago seeking their help in completing the survey, he said. “It’s early days but there are themes of public safety, completion and management of essential infrastructures, amenities and the long-term future and resolution of sites.”

Mr Flanagan said many homeowners had paid over the odds and were in negative equity. “They have been badly let down by the system.”

He asked about an exact date for the completion of the survey, and what lessons had been learned to ensure the same situation “does not recur in five or 10 years’ time”.

Mr Cuffe said they had to put in a “proper planning system”, and he was “flabbergasted to see that in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fine Gael councillors were to the fore in promoting even more rezonings. Have they learned nothing from the mistakes made?”

The Minister added that Fine Gael councillors should “work closely with the management teams and the professional planners, and listen carefully to their advice”.

Mr Flanagan asked what hope the Minister could give homeowners where developers were bankrupt.

Mr Cuffe said: “Where several homes are occupied in an estate but they are largely unfinished, and there might be a litter problem and/or a sewage problem, I believe that county and city managers will do all that they can to improve the quality of life in those areas. There is no pot of money for completion, of which I am aware. In many cases there are bonds that have been put up by the developer.”

Irish Times

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