Progress made with unfinished estates in county

Significant advances have been made on over 60 per cent of Co Longford’s 128 incomplete housing estates across the county.

Significant advances have been made on over 60 per cent of Co Longford’s 128 incomplete housing estates across the county.

Since last June, eight developments have been taken in charge by the council with five requiring no further action to be taken.

This Terry Rooney, chief officer with Longford County Council’s unfinished estates team, has left the council having to deal with 115 potentially troublesome estates throughout Co Longford.

“Progress has been made on 79 of those estates,” he told local representatives at last week’s monthly meeting of Longford County Council. “Of these, an agreed programme of works is being implemented in 36 of those estates.”

Over the past seven months, council staff have managed to secure cash bonds to carry out improvements in 11 estates, four sites where bonds have been called in and a further 15 that the council plan on ‘taking in charge’ or assuming responsibility for later this year.

Mr Rooney, who received a round of applause from councillors upon delivering his report, admitted the process was continuing to throw up challenges for staff.

“There are 13 (estates) where enforcement and legal proceedings have commenced,” he said. “Unfortunately we are not always successful in getting developers and site owners to work with us and in these particular instances we have initiated legal proceedings.”

The detailed update, which took resulted in over an hour of discussions, was given the unanimous thumbs up by councillors.

County Mayor, Cllr Sean Farrell said he hoped the press would highlight the efforts of Mr Rooney and the council’s unfinished estates group.

As the debate switched to ongoing challenges at the Gleann Riada estate on the outskirts of Longford town, Cllr Paul Connell said Longford could well become a “roadmap” for other local authorities to learn from.

“I cannot believe we are so far on so quickly and with such a good job done,” said Cllr Connell, as he called on the national media to re-visit the Gleann Riada story.

County Manager Tim Caffrey said he too had been taken aback by the gradual turnaround in the county’s unfinished estates problem.

He also had strong words for the various agencies and the role they played in Ireland’s Celtic Tiger aftermath.

“I have said this many times, these are private estates and people shouldn’t forget that,” he told a hushed council chamber.

“When these estates were being built there was onus on the developers and on those people certifying these estates a self certification system was a disaster. In relation to individual houses in these estates there was banks and other lending institutions where there was an onus on them when they were giving out the money to have their engineer and quantity surveyor and their architect to certify it. They seem to have all walked away and the local authorities are now being blamed, in my view in the wrong, for an awful lot of the bad construction that went on over the years.”