Funding of €5m has been allocated to local authorities by government in an effort to provide “urgent work” to around 350 dangerous or “developer abandoned” housing estates which have been identified in a new report.
The developments identified under the funding allocation include 8,000 houses and approximately one in six “ghost estates” across the country. In Longford 77 “ghost estates” have been identified with 16 of those classed as “dangerous”. Leitrim has 13 dangerous or abandoned estates while 34 were identified in Cavan.
Outgoing Minister of State for Housing, Michael Finneran said that the funding had been allocated to “deal with the most urgent problems in estates” because he felt that he had a “moral responsibility” to residents whom he felt had “dealt with enough hardship in recent years”.
Minister Finneran, however also warned, that the funding allocation would have to be recouped either through the future sale of houses or by taking properties into local authority ownership for social housing.
“This money will have to be recouped to the taxpayers of this country,” he said, adding that he was not in the business of bailing out people who “gambled in estates, who took out big loans for development”.
“I am responding to a public safety need,” said Mr Finneran.
Overall the €5m which will provide an average of just €14,000 per estate will be used to address problems such as open excavations, unprotected upper floor levels in half built housing or uncovered manholes.
The advisory group on Unfinished Housing Developments said that the midland and border region local authority areas had the “most pronounced problems” and that affected rural areas would present “the most difficulties in terms of solutions” because of low population demand for housing. The authority also warned that other on site problems included lack of public lighting as well as defects with essential services including water, sewerage and drainage infrastructure.
Local authorities have been advised that they should only intervene directly in developments “as a last resort” when there are serious risks to public health and all attempts to make a developer or lending institution remedy the problems “has been exhausted”.
“In extreme cases, it may be necessary for a local authority to compulsory acquire all or parts of the estate under the Derelict Sites Act, which could result in some demolition,” the report concluded.