Residents of Belline Vale housing estate in Piltown are extremely annoyed to discover that their estate has been deemed a ‘Category 1’ estate and does not qualify for exemption from the Government’s Household Charge when it is clear that major problems remain unresolved in the estate. According to the Department of the Environment, ‘Category 1’ estate is defined as being “a development which is still being actively completed by the developer.” The residents are adamant that this is clearly not the case at Belline Vale as the developer has not been on site in over three years.
Residents have now spent over five years without street lighting, which in itself is a major safety concern. Holes for light posts remain uncovered, the entrance to the estate is unsightly with insecure wire fencing in place, the entrance wall is unfinished and the road surface uneven. These are just a few of the safety issues highlighted by the residents over the past few years.
The residents have appealed on numerous occasions to Kilkenny County Council to have their estate completed and made safe. They want the estate re-categorised to Category 4, which is defined as “a development which has been effectively abandoned and is posing serious problems for residents”. They believe this is undoubtedly true in the case of Belline Vale.
In response, Kilkenny county Counil said it was requested by the Department of the Environment to categorise unfinished estates in April 2011 under four categories and in the context of “public safety” works that were deemed necessary.
Belline Vale was classed as Category 1; “development broadly completed/not fully occupied/developer is still active/no serious public safety issues”.
The council said that in April 2011 when the categorisation was being made the developer, Michael Donnelly, was actively engaging with the council during the court proceedings which were ongoing at that time. At that time he was seeking release of funds from Anglo Irish Bank to have the outstanding works done. The Council is still pursuing the completion of the estate with the developer. The subsequent decision to exempt Categories 3 and 4 from payment of the household charge was made by the Department of the Environment.
The council did not say if it intended changing the status of the estate.