South Dublin council first to resolve ghost estates problem

Bankrupt developer loans sold on to investors, leaving Nama in charge of just 15 estates

Minister of State for Housing Damien English said in a number of cases complex legal issues remained over ownership of unfinished estates. Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister of State for Housing Damien English said in a number of cases complex legal issues remained over ownership of unfinished estates. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

South Dublin County Council has become the first local authority to resolve all its “ghost estates” the Government said on Tuesday.

Since 2010 when upwards of 3,000 unfinished housing estates were identified across the Republic, some 2,580 have now been resolved – mostly through completion by alternative builders with new finance arrangements.

However the report also showed there are 291 housing estates where more then 8,600 households were living alongside uncompleted buildings .

As insolvent and bankrupt developers’ loans have largely been sold on to new investors in the market, Nama is now in charge of just 15 unfinished estates.

Local authorities were paid €6 million in completion bonds held by banks in 2016 – part of an overall €63 million paid out since 2010. The money was spent on roads, water services, public lighting and amenity areas within estates.

But the local authorities claim they are owned owed a further €28 million from the liquidators of IBRC, the State “bad bank”, which held a number of securities and bonds from initial developers.

Launching the Annual Progress Report on Actions to Address Unfinished Housing Estates for 2016, Minister of State for Housing Damien English said the process was on track to resolve the entire stock of unfinished estates within 18 months to two years.

The figures showed the unfinished estates included 746 “units” at foundation level; some 2,250 units classed as “incomplete” and 1,014 units “near completion”.

The report found that South Dublin had no unresolved development in October 2016, down from 12 the year before.

Also in 2016:

  • Dublin City had three unfinished estates.
  • Dun Laoghaire Rathdown had five.
  • Fingal had seven.
  • Wicklow had nine.
  • Kildare had 10.
  • Meath had two.

But in contrast to the east coast where resolution of unfinished estates is easier due to market conditions, parts of the south, midlands and west still retain significant numbers of unfinished estates.

  • Co Cork had 56 unfinished estates.
  • Donegal had 28.
  • Tipperary had 30.
  • Roscommon had 28.
  • Leitrim had 21.

In terms of progress, Meath reduced the number of ghost estates by 80 per cent over 2015, while Cork and Galway cities did not reduce the numbers of ghost estates at all, each retaining three unfinished estates from the previous year.

Mr English said under a previous initiative local authorities ensured that unoccupied developments were secure and did not pose a public safety problem. He also said some local authorities had compulsorily purchased sites if there had been no movement for a number of years.

The report said the “only option” for a small number of schemes was demolition. It instances the demolition of 69 units in two housing estates – Ard Micheal, in Longford and Aishling in Ennis Co Clare.

Mr English said in a number of cases complex legal issues remained over ownership of unfinished estates. But he said he was keen to see other local authorities resolve their estates and “in 18 months to two years, the ghost estates will be gone”.