Can management firm install speed bumps in our complex?
Property Clinic: Your property queries answered
Roads in new and private developments should be designed with traffic calming in mind but often this is not enough to have road users reduce speeds. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Q: I have recently received a notice from my management company indicating that they wish to use a portion of our sinking fund to construct speed bumps on all the access roads in our complex at considerable cost for, ostensibly, health and safety reasons and childhood safety, etc – but I have not heard of any incident which would warrant this development.
I have checked with the local authority and they have advised me that planning permission would be required as the aforementioned speed bumps were not part of the original planning permission.
Furthermore, the common areas (including, I assume, the access roads) have not yet been handed over to the management company pursuant to the Mud Act 2011. I can only assume that the management company intends to construct speed bumps on land which they do not own?
When I questioned these developments and requested details of the proposed contractor, tenders, etc, I did not receive any response. Incidentally, with regard to the welfare of children resident in the complex, a request to construct a small play area was flatly turned down by the same management company even though we have extensive grounds upon which it could be built.
A: Traffic and parking control on private roadways is a thorny issue. On public roads we rely on the local authority and Garda to calm traffic, control illegal parking and ensure access for safety vehicles; private estates cannot call upon these offices for assistance and are left to manage it themselves.
Planning policy restricts parking for new developments by detailing precise numbers of parking spaces per dwelling and visitor parking ratios and restricting parking on roads and carriageways.
Roads in new and private developments should be designed with traffic calming in mind but often this is not enough to have road users reduce speeds and behave with due care and consideration for other road users and pedestrians.
In the event that a risk is perceived or there is a clear and continued disregard for safety by road users I do not believe that it is necessary or desired that an incident needs to occur.
I understand that the installation of speed bumps or cushions on a private road does not constitute development and as such does not require planning permission but this is something that should be considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition, consideration should be given regarding the nature of traffic-calming measures and any liability attaching to their installation.
Traffic management guidelines should be followed and the calming measure used should be appropriate and be accompanied by relevant warning signs. The owners’ management company may be seeking to protect itself from future litigation or public liability insurance claims in the event that they have been put on notice of the risk to personal safety on the private road.
I would recommend that prior to installing any traffic-calming measures that they seek professional guidance regarding location, signage and calming measures from a suitable professional.
When it comes to the ownership of the estate and that the conveyance has not yet taken place, it is important that the owners’ management company seeks the permission of the freeholder to make such alterations but it is also important that the conveyance is progressed.
While I agree that a playground may be desirable from a children’s recreation perspective, the installation of speed bumps is about safety and, in my view, carries greater importance.
Unfortunately, the requirement for speed bumps and reluctance to install playgrounds often comes back to potential for litigation and claims against the owners’ management company public liability insurance.
Paul Mooney is a chartered property manager and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie