Spectre of ghost estates haunts Ireland

Wednesday 14 March 2012 15.32
Ghost Estates - 33,000 vacant homes around the country
Ghost Estates - 33,000 vacant homes around the country

There are more than 2,800 ghost estates in the country, according to a report from the Department of the Environment.

The report identifies a county-by-county inventory of unfinished estates.

The survey was carried out by the department from May to September. It shows that building had started on 120,000 homes in ghost estates.

Of these, 77,000 are completed and occupied, while 33,000 are completed and vacant or nearly completed. Around 10,000 others are in early stages of construction.

An expert group is now being set up by the Government to advise on how best to deal with the problems of ghost estates.
Membership of that group will include representatives of local authorities, the banking and construction sectors, NAMA and building professionals.

The group will advise on practical solutions to ensure satisfactory completion or resolution of problems with unfinished housing developments.

Expert group to advise Govt on how to deal with ghost estates

Its first task is to publish within the next three weeks a draft code of practice on how this could be done.

Housing Minister Michael Finneran said: 'The key outcome here is that we now have the evidence base to deliver policy and action in solving the problems that can arise on housing developments due to the wider construction and economic downturn.'

The statistics will provide cold comfort for people in ghost estates who are sometimes forced to live with safety risks, such as open sewers.

Minister of State for Planning Ciarán Cuffe said the survey 'provides a clear picture of the extent and scale of unfinished housing developments across the country'.

However, Fine Gael Housing Spokesman Terence Flanagan has criticised the decision to set up the expert group.

He said: 'The Government's typical response to establish yet another 'taskforce' to kick to touch any solutions is unacceptable.
'Homeowners who purchased their home in good faith deserve better. They should not be living on building sites which pose huge health and safety risks.'

The Sherry FitzGerald Group has welcomed the survey and said it should remove the uncertainty from the property sector.

The group's chief economist Marian Finnegan: 'The topic of housing supply has been hotly debated in recent months.

'Today's results should end the speculation once and for all, it is a very positive step for the industry overall.'