Council taskforce established to tackle crisis of unfinished housing estates

A task force has been established by Tipperary County Council to address the issue of unfinished estates and estates that have yet to be taken in charge.

A task force has been established by Tipperary County Council to address the issue of unfinished estates and estates that have yet to be taken in charge.

Members were informed at their monthly meeting in Nenagh on Monday that 70 housing estates have applied to the authority to be taken in charge by the authority.

There are currently 49 unfinished housing estates in Tipperary, down over 30% on 2012.

After listening to members highlight the frustration residents living in such estates had regarding delays in taking estates in charge, senior planner Brian Beck said there are very specific steps that they have to follow to take over an estate. He said the matter had the highest priority within the council and informed members that a breakdown of the estates would be given at forthcoming municipal district meetings. He informed members that estates not yet taken in charge would remain the responsibility of the developer, the banks receiver or liquidator whose responsibility it was to bring the estate up to an acceptable standard. It was not the intention of the council to spend public monies entering estates that were not properly finished.

Cllr. David Dunne said he lived in an estate in Carrick on Suir that was not taken in charge and frustration among residents was very high.

“Public lighting in the estate is a big issue. People are living in darkness for years. No lights, no water meters, that is what people are saying,” said Cllr.Dunne.

Cllr. Kieran Bourke said he was looking forward to the municipal districts getting the breakdown of the estates.In one case in Carrick a developer has done everything, ticked all the boxes, the cash bond was in place but the estate was not going to be taken in charge because drinking water was being pumped into the estate. and that is why people were protesting every day to the meters being installed.

Cllr. Martin Browne said progress had to be made as people caught up in such a situation in housing estates all over the county were very frustrated.

Cllr. Andy Moloney said the delays in taking estates in charge were unacceptable. He highlighted some estates in 2008/09 and the same problems existed in those estates. Something had to be done for people who were suffering every day living in these estates.

The Cahir councillor said changes had to be made in planning conditions and no developer should be allowed build seventy five houses again with huge problems existing at the end of the process.

“The builder should only be allowed build five houses and a snag list then worked on rather than allowing a builder to build all the houses in the estate. It should be a clean as you go policy from now on,” said Cllr.Moloney.

Cllr. Michael Murphy said people living in unfinished estates and estates not yet taken in charge needed hope and he expected the task force to address the serious problems that exist in housing estates.

Cllr. Siobhan Ambrose said she was aware of one estate where there was a water leak but that residents were frustrated as Irish Water refuse to go into the estate because it was not taken in charge yet. She felt the council should follow the procedure that applies in Nordic countries where all the infrastructure is put in first before the first block on a house is laid.

Cllr. Tom Wood said the council was obliged to look after people living in such estates that were tenants of the local authority. ”We never accepted a situation in our own local authority estates where tenants did not have these services and it is an absolute scandal that our tenants are living in estates that are not taken in charge,” said Cllr. Wood.

“We cannot wash our hands of this, we have a responsibility to these people” he insisted.

In response Mr Beck said that people had to appreciate that the taking in charge process takes time. He said Irish Water were not the “bogey men” in this situation. He said Irish Water would go into estates,even if they were not taken in charge, on health and safety grounds.

County Manager Joe McGrath said for the first time now a single approach could be taken on the issue since the amalgamation of the two councils. Progress had already been made and the number of unfinished estates had been reduced. The situation in estates has to be put right and he expected the task force now in place to make further progress on the matter. He understood how frustrating it was for residents and there was a determination to address the issues involved.