South Tipperary County Council have served a dangerous structures notice on 18 people associated with the Caiseal na Ri housing estate in Cashel, where a boundary wall collapsed.
The 18 people include directors of the building company who are developing the site and the developer’s bank.
At last Monday’s meeting of South Tipperary County Council, one councillor expressed the fear that a child could have been killed when a 15-metre stretch of the wall, which was about six feet high, fell.
The County Council order compels the developer and bank to start improvement works within seven days of the order being served (last Monday) and completed within two months. If this is not complied with the County Council can immediately take the matter to the District Court.
Council officials are hoping for a swift response to the order.
South Tipp County Council engaged a structural engineering consultant in the preparation of the dangerous structures order, concerning unstable walls at the Caiseal na Ri development. The meeting was told they carried out a visual inspection and in order for a more full report to be made the consultants would need to carry out excavation works.
The problems at Caiseal na Ri were raised at the meeting by Cllrs Pat English and Sean McCarthy.
“The bottom line is that the wall did collapse, it fell, and if there were children in the way when that wall fell they would have been seriously injured or killed. There was a dangerous structure which should not have been there,” said Cllr McCarthy.
Cllr English pointed out that these issues are not unique to Cashel and are all over the country. “These people paid serious money for these buildings, are in hock up to their necks and are left with something they can’t get rid of. They don’t feel safe letting their kids out on the street.”
Cllr Tom Wood said that the council has had to erect fencing around walls that are facing on to public areas.
Cllr Louise McLaughlin said she was “horrified,” and Chairman, Michael Fitzgerald, said he sincerely hopes something can be done to improve the lives of the people living there.
Director of Services Sinead Carr informed the meeting that she was working on the basis that the issue could be resolved. An interdepartmental team has been set up in the County Council to work on the matter and she said she would be more than happy for that team to meet with the residents of Caiseal na Ri.
The residents had been dealing with the council since 2009, under the planning legislation, she said.
“We will take whatever action is necessary within the framework of the law.”
Ms Carr pointed out that solicitors and engineers had signed off on house sales in the estate.
She also said that it is unlikely that the community centre, which was on the development plans, will now be built.
Planning permission was initially granted for 108 houses at Caiseal na Ri. One hundred houses have been constructed there. That planning permission has now expired so no more development can take place until a site resolution plan is agreed. Repair and reconstruction of the walls is exempt from this, it was explained.
The situation at the Caiseal na Ri estate was also discussed at Monday night’s meeting of Cashel Town Council.
Cllr. Eoghan Lawrence said it had progressed from concerns about the surface of the road and finishing the estate to becoming a serious safety issue, especially since the 15 metres stretch of the wall, which was about six feet high, had collapsed.
The members supported a call from Cllr. PJ Quinlan that the Town Council would pursue the developers to make the estate safe, as well as finishing Caiseal na Ri to an acceptable level.
Cllr. Eddie Bennett also expressed his concerns about safety, saying he had a one year-old grandchild living on the estate and there was no point closing the stable door when the horse had bolted. There seemed to be a problem with the foundations and he was sure the engineers could sort it out.
It was only by the grace of God that somebody wasn’t killed when that wall fell, said Cllr. Sean McCarthy. The condition of the estate was a disgrace to Cashel and a disgrace to Tipperary.
However, Town Clerk Marie McGivern told the meeting that the Council couldn’t issue enforcement proceedings under planning legislation because the development was located in the County Council’s administrative area.