Unfinished estates may face demolition

Thu, Nov 29, 2012, 00:00

About 1,100 unfinished housing estates are in “a seriously problematic condition” and some may face demolition, Minister for Housing Jan O’Sullivan said yesterday. Some of the 1,100 cases involve entire estates while others involve small portions of estates.

“With regard to bulldozing or otherwise, I suppose that is . . . going to be the issue really we are going to have to address in the next couple of months in terms of making the hard decisions,” she said.

A small number of unfinished houses have been demolished and Ms O’Sullivan said she expected “just a fraction” of the problematic developments would be demolished. “That would be the most sensible solution whereby it would be more expensive and more problematic to finish it off than to rather put it back to agricultural use.”

She said there could be other uses for some of the buildings. “There were suggestions, for example, of school uses, or other kinds of community-type uses . . nursing homes,” she said. “We think that all uses should be considered before the option of demolition.”

Clarity

Ms O’Sullivan said she hoped there would be “a fairly strong degree of clarity” as to the future outcome of all of the developments by next spring.

She was speaking as the Government published the 2012 Unfinished Housing Developments Survey. It shows there are 1,770 unfinished housing estates, down from 2,874 two years ago. There are 16,881 vacant dwellings in the State while a further 7,992 are nearly complete. Leitrim tops the list as the local authority with the highest number of vacant units per 1,000 households, followed by Longford, Cavan, Roscommon and Sligo. Waterford city and Limerick city have the lowest number of empty homes per 1,000 households.

Two-speed market

Construction Industry Federation housing director Hubert Fitzpatrick said the report showed that a two-speed residential property market was developing. “Oversupply is a far more distinct problem in rural areas such as Cavan, Longford, Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim,” he said. “This variation in supply will become even more apparent in the short to medium term as new house-building activity has hit an all-time low. Only 8,000 units are expected to be completed this year, the lowest since the records began in 1970.”

The report shows a fall of 37 per cent in the number of unfinished developments since 2010. Ms O’Sullivan said €3.55 million had been allocated by her department to make unfinished developments safe.

See environ.iefor the full survey