Housing estate on bog 'should be demolished'


AN ENTIRE housing estate that is subsiding as a result of being built on a bog should be levelled, most of its owners have told the High Court. The development has been referred to locally as the “Titanic site”, the court heard.

Radharc An Seascan, a 15-house estate at Meenmore overlooking Dungloe Bay in Co Donegal, was largely completed in 2007/8 and sold mostly to people from Northern Ireland who bought the houses as holiday homes and investments.

The owners have sued the builders, O’Kane Developments (Northwest) Ltd, and the engineers/architects Damien McKay Ltd, trading as Damien McKay, Drumany, Letterkenny (a company in voluntary liquidation).

Liability has been accepted by Aviva Insurance in its capacity as the insurers for McKay, and the matter came before Mr Justice Michael Peart yesterday for assessment of damages.

Richard Lyons SC, for two of the house owners, also asked the court to decide whether O’Kane’s, which the court heard is now a dormant company, should also be subject to any order made.

Within a year of completion of the estate the entire site suffered serious subsidence because it was built on a peat bog, Desmond Murphy, counsel for 13 of the house owners, said.

The owners say the subsidence caused water pipes in the houses to break, damaged central heating and drainage/sewage systems, caused steps and ramps to detach from walls, and tarmac to sink.

Some of the owners had used the houses to holiday in themselves, while others had rented them out until the subsidence problems made them uninhabitable, the court heard.

The houses now attract anti-social behaviour, illegal dumping and have also been subjected to vandalism and theft, with the heating boilers from most of the houses stolen in October 2011, the owners say.

Holes of up to a metre wide have appeared on the site, posing a serious danger, particularly for children.

The judge heard Aviva Insurance has a sum of €2 million available under the policy taken out by the architects, although this may not be enough to cover all the claims. This aspect of the case may have to be dealt with at another hearing.

Most of the owners, who paid between €155,000 and €190,000 for the houses, told the court they believed all the houses should be knocked because they could not be economically repaired.

The case will be mentioned today, when the judge is expected to reserve his decision.