Monday 7 February 2011

Kerry An Taisce agm told of ghost estates

OVERDEVELOPMENT IN Kerry has resulted in dozens of so-called “ghost estates” half-finished and abandoned, and well outside town and village boundaries.

Some of the most “striking” of these leftover developments are in the county’s most scenic tourist parts, the annual general meeting of the Kerry association of An Taisce has heard.

An Taisce was severely criticised by developers and their promoters during the Celtic Tiger period, but was probably now being thanked for saving some from going under, the meeting in Killarney also heard. There were 35 ghost estates in Kerry and this and other overdevelopment were a result of overgenerous zoning in local area plans.

“The problem was exacerbated by councillors adding in even more land at the behest of other landowners and there was massive over- zoning,” Dr Catherine McMullin, honorary planning officer with An Taisce told the meeting. The most striking of the ghost estates was outside Castlemaine, on the Dingle road, a major tourist route, she said. In 2000, permission was granted for 50 houses and four years later for a further 14 houses, as well as three apartments and a hotel.

However, the development was never included within the boundary of the village in the local area plan.

Most of the 50 houses are built to wall plate level, but some were only at foundation stage. Four blocks of two-storey houses had been built adjoining the main road but were not yet habitable.

“The whole development has been abandoned for the past few years and there is very little hope of it being completed,” she said.

Dr McMullin said she had heard of one developer toasting planners because they had refused him permission for a large development which, had they not refused him, would have gone ahead and landed him in Nama.

“During the boom period, An Taisce was often criticised for opposing development, but it is quite likely we also saved a few developers from landing in the same trouble,” she added.

The meeting heard how a large extension and holiday-home development granted by Kerry County Council at the Great Southern Hotel in Parknasilla owned by developer Bernard McNamara was “under-utilised”.

A further development of 104 holiday homes at the hotel was successfully appealed by An Taisce.

“It is quite likely the 104 holiday apartments, appealed to An Bord Pleanála by the Kerry Association of An Taisce, would also have been built and now be a liability for their owners,” Dr McMullin said.

She also outlined a number of large developments which the organisation had appealed, including a large commercial development in the grounds of the former Great Southern Hotel in Killarney, now the Malton. This was granted but had not gone ahead, she noted.

Irish Times

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