Hunting for 'ghost estates'


EMAILS, texts and phone calls kept coming all week as hordes of foreign journalists flew into our beleaguered country.

One wanted to know where to find le riots, but all of them were hunting for “ghost estates”.

Images of empty Irish houses, the symbol pretty universally chosen to illustrate our plight, haunted TV screens and foreign newspapers.

But where to find them? Chartered surveyor and town planner Bill Nowlan (who pleads in this paper for the media to stop using the phrase) maintains that journalists will have a hard time tracking real “ghost estates” down. Says Nowlan “It’s hard to find semi-derelict tumbleweed estates – because they’re largely a media fiction.” According to the recent Department of the Environment survey, around 77 per cent of the 101,000 homes on estates where construction has started but not been completed are occupied. In other words, the majority by a long shot.

Nowlan also maintains that estates where there are problems – mainly in western counties – will be fixed easily enough in the long term, without having to pull houses down. The market will fix them, he says - prices will fall, and people will buy them.