More than 90% of ‘ghost estates’ completed

Number of vacant units in urban areas ‘practicably negligible’

A development of 12 houses for sale as seen for €300,0000 at Quay West, Cootehall, Co Roscommon.

A development of 12 houses for sale as seen for €300,0000 at Quay West, Cootehall, Co Roscommon.

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More than 90 per cent of unfinished “ghost estates” on which work came to a stop when the economy collapsed in 2010, have been completed, according to a report.

The Resolving Unfinished Housing Developments report 2017 shows the number of ghost estates has dropped from more than 3,000 at the start of 2011 to just 256 at the end of last year.

Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English has expressed hopes for a “100 per cent turnaround” of unfinished estates.

The report showed a total of 70 housing developments were progressed to “taken in charge” status in 2017,meaning these estates were complete, with roads and pavements, drains and lighting in place. Some €3.2 million in bonds taken out by developers was recouped in 2017, bringing the total collected since 2011 to €66.25 million.

Dublin city had three housing sites where no activity was taking place. Kildare had 10 sites, Wicklow had nine

Co Wexford had the largest number of vacant units, some 251 homes, in 2017. This was followed by Laois, which had 135 vacant units in unfinished estates and Co Cork, which had 129. Longford and Roscommon, where many estates were started as they carried a generous “upper Shannon tax relief “designation, had just 82 units each.

No vacant units

But in cities and “urban metropolitan and therefore higher demand” areas the number of vacant units was described as “practicably negligible”. Dublin City Council and South Dublin County Council had no vacant units in the category of “unfinished developments”. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown had eight and Fingal had three.

In terms of ongoing activity, five out of 28 unfinished housing developments in Co Roscommon were said to be “active”. Six out of 56 sites in Co Cork were described as “active”. Leitrim had 21 development sites, three of which were said to be active.

Dublin city had three housing sites where no activity was taking place. Kildare had 10 sites, Wicklow had nine and Sligo had 12 development sites where no activity was taking place.

Social housing

The report said local authorities were continuing to identify and acquire homes in “ghost estates” – whether partially occupied or empty estates. However, in a change from previous years the report does not identify the potential number of social houses arising from unfinished estates.

The report said “through consultation with local authorities” it was considered that this approach did not present “a true holistic approach”.

Instead local authorities and the Department of Housing will, in future, assess the suitability of available houses with regard to housing need and demand in the area.

They will also consider availability of services such as schools and public transport and existing levels of social housing.

The report said the intention was to examine social housing within the locality “and whether further social housing would be appropriate or lead to an over concentration and poor tenure mix”.

In relation to Nama’s contribution to social housing, the report said demand had been confirmed for 2,793 properties which Nama had previously indicated as being suitable for social housing.

By September 2017, some 2,216 homes had been handed over to approved housing bodies through the Nama scheme.

Mr English said the objective was to resolve all remaining unfinished housing developments, especially those within high market demand locations and “strive for 100 per cent turnaround. With a further push in 2018 to resolve as many as possible of the remaining unfinished developments”.

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