Longford is country's 'leading light' in curbing unfinished estates woes

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

aisling.kiernan@longfordleader.ie

Gerry Warnock

Cllr Gerry Warnock

Longford County Council has been credited as being the country’s “leading light” when analysing the clean up operation left by Ireland’s Celtic Tiger past.

The contention was made at last week’s meeting of the local authority just days after its all much acclaimed unfinished estates team came in for international recognition.
The group took home an EU Good Practice Award for its problem resolution accomplishments which has seen it rectify over 90 of the 128 unfinished estates left in the wake of Ireland’s post 2008 banking collapse.
“Longford per capita head of the population was probably the basket case of the country for unfinished estates,” opined Cllr Gerry Warnock.
“But we didn’t hide behind the bush. Instead, we came out with limited resources and came up with a plan to negotiate with developers through a collaborative approach rather than waving a big stick at people.
“That has paid dividends so much so that Longford can be considered the leading light in that regard.”
Cllr Peggy Nolan gave further credence to those comments as she reflected on the indicative features behind the unfinished estates team’s success.
She said it was the body’s “personal touch” in terms of dealing with insolvent developers and affected residents which ultimately set it apart from its European contemporaries.
“You had couples who bought into a dream and ended up living a nightmare where developers just left.
“I know the (Unfinished Estates) team went out and engaged on a very personal level by going above and beyond what their jobs required them to do,” she said.
Likewise, Independent Cllr Mark Casey said the county had come a long way from featuring on an RTÉ programme eight years ago.
In that programme, Silver Birches estate in Stonepark was highlighted as being a classic archetype of Ireland's economic malaise.
“If you looked at it now they are like two different estates,” he said, while reserving a special word of praise for then Housing Minister Willie Penrose.
Council chief executive said the achievements of its unfinished estates team allied to the €640,000 awarded to the county under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme meant it was perhaps time for everyone to “take stock” of the past couple of weeks.
“Now might be the time just to sit back at what has been achieved and last Wednesday (Town and Village Renewal Scheme) was a perfect example of that,” he said.

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