People living in Co Galway’s numerous unfinished housing estates have an anxious wait ahead to find out if their estate is among those chosen for improvement works by Galway Co Council.
The local authority is currently carrying out a review of the state and number of unfinished developments around the county as part of its bid to secure Government funds to help tackle the ongoing problems in ghost estates.
The Council previously ruled out any demolition in the 50 or so ghost estates located in different towns around the county and dealing with the problem has proved complicated. While some estates have an occupancy rate of less than 50% and have been abandoned by the developer, local authorities are advised only to intervene directly as a last resort.
People living in the estates where there are many half-finished houses, unsightly site work, mounds of fill and soil, open manholes and uncompleted open areas, ground works and roads continue to complain to the Council.
However, while it has been suggested that demolition work is the only solution for some estates in areas where the houses are unlikely ever to sell, it’s understood that the Council simply doesn’t have the powers to do this in a private estate and legislation only provides for the enforcement of the conditions of planning permission.
A spokesperson for the Council confirmed to The Tuam Herald that it will be making a submission for funding under the recently announced €10 million funding scheme from Government.
“The estates that will be the subject of our application for funding have yet to be determined and accordingly no details on the location of same or the works therein are currently available,” stated the spokesperson.
The number of residential estates is being assessed on a case is being assessed on a case by case basis, trying to ascertain what works are outstanding and what the financial position of the developer is, or if there are any funds available to ensure the completion of the estate.
A few years ago €5 million nationally was earmarked to address the most immediate public safety hazards in estates partially occupied by residents but it’s not known how much of this was drawn down for works in Co Galway. Local election candidate Nora Fahy, who lives not far from Williamstown, which was known to have the highest number of unfinished states in the county, says hundreds of families are still trapped in limbo.
She is eager for the Council to apply to the €10 million fund and outline the issues facing the most problematic estates in the county.
“There is still a major problem with unfinished housing estates all over Co Galway and East Galway with many couples and families trapped living in limbo land. Hard working people are struggling to pay a mortgage and put food on the table. They worked hard to buy their own homes in many of these estates but then they were left living in the middle of construction sites,” remarked Nora Fahy.
The Fianna Fáil Tuam local area candidate hopes the €10 million fund will help alleviate the plight of those living in unfinished housing estates.
“The lack of public infrastructure in many of these unfinished housing estates also puts off any potential buyers from expressing an interest in the estate and so many homeowners are left isolated in a deserted housing estate which was meant to be their dream home,” added Nora.
The fund is specially designed to address deficiencies in public infrastructure such as roads, footpaths, public lighting and open spaces. It is envisaged that by addressing these problems, it will unlock the potential for developers and funders to invest additional capital to complete the housing element of the development.
Residents will be eager to see the updated Co Council list. While close to sixty developments were deemed to be unfinished in 2012 and got a waiver from the controversial Household Charge, residents were shocked by some of the estates that were left out.
There was further surprise when the list of estates that are exempt from property tax emerged, which listed just a section of one unfinished estate in Tuam, Carrigweir and omitted others such as Clochrán and Vicars Choroland.