Monday 3 October 2011

Offaly haunted by ghost estates funding snub

OFFALY County Council is still waiting on funding to deal with five “ghost estates” in the county.

Despite funding of €5 million being announced in March to tackle problems in unfinished estates around the country, Offaly has yet to see one cent of the funding.

The five estates are located in Kinnitty, Crinkle, Banagher, Edenderry and Tullamore.

Director of Services Declan Kirrane told the ‘Offaly Express’ that the council applied for funding as soon as it was made available, but to date have not received anything.

Mr Kirrane said the five estates were identified in a report carried out by the Department of the Environment, and the department have raised a number of queries with the council in relation to their application for the funding.

He said it was a big issue as there were a number of safety issues in these estates. These included problems for parents with young children, the effect these estates have had on overall Tidy Towns results and the opportunity they may provide for anti social behaviour. “We are hoping the funding will come as soon as possible,” said Mr Kirrane.

Neighbouring county Laois has received funding of €67,772 to tackle its four ghost estates while Westmeath County Council has received €85,531 to deal with the four “ghost estates” identified in the report.

The issue was raised in the Dail recently where Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government Deputy Willie Penrose said to date his Department has made allocations totalling some €2.16 million to fifteen local authorities from the €5 million funding allocation made available to address immediate safety issues.

The types of works that have been approved to date include the fencing off of unsecured and hazardous areas, capping of pipes, installation of street lighting, and other works to secure sites.

“My Department will be making further allocations as applications are received from local authorities and assessed. I can also report that planning authorities are already making progress in securing the co-operation of developers, financial institutions and/or bond holders, thereby obviating the need to use Exchequer resources to fund such work,” he said.

Minister Penrose said developers and owners of unfinished housing developments (or their receivers, where appointed) have the primary legal obligation in addressing outstanding problems associated with these developments. “Any public funds expended under this provision should ultimately be recouped from the developer/receiver. Estates which fall under the direct control of NAMA, or receivers appointed by NAMA, are being managed by them and as a consequence do not fall within this scheme. Details of the allocations made to date are in the table,” he concluded.

Offaly Express

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