Kilkenny’s unfinished estates starting to be made safer

At least one housing estate in Co Kilkenny has gone into NAMA and a liquidator or receiver has been appointed to six estates, but some progress is being made in making unfinished estates safer, according to Kilkenny County Council.

At least one housing estate in Co Kilkenny has gone into NAMA and a liquidator or receiver has been appointed to six estates, but some progress is being made in making unfinished estates safer, according to Kilkenny County Council.

In several cases, the council has written to developers to instruct them on needed safety works and many developers have complied, according to a presentation by executive technician Paul Moran at a meeting of the council’s planning committee (SPC 1).

Of the 76 developments in Co Kilkenny that were included in a Department of the Environment list of unfinished housing estates, there are currently 15 that appear to be finished and the council is inspecting them to ensure that all planning conditions have been met, Mr Moran said.

However, 12 other developments are subject to legal proceedings for non-compliance of planning and the council has issued enforcement warning letters. Some of the cases have been adjourned when they came up in court, however, to give the developers more time to complete the words in question. These include Richview and The Weir, while Banagher Court and Belline Vale’s cases have been adjourned for 12 months, Mr Moran said.

The council’s director of services John McCormack noted that the local authority had no problem with the cases being adjourned if the work was being carried out.

Of the estates where residents where residents are waiting for works to be carried out, Cllr Pat Dunphy (FG) said it was difficult for residents who were waiting for basic services to be brought in, particularly if they bought at the peak of the market. “This is a desperate situation for owners who bought houses at that very expensive period, to see the value fall and to see a developer not complying with a lot of things like lighting and keeping the grass cut,” he said.

In two cases, the council has drawn down the development bond to finish works such as water services and landscaping, and money has been made available from the Department of the Environment for safety works in Dunán, Togher Way, The Paddocks, Farmlea Manor, Cois na Bearu and Castlehyde Park. The council has also applied for funding for such works at Christendom.

The council issued a ‘dangerous structure’ notice to Clarks public house in Callan, Mr Moran said, but work has since been done to demolish the structure in question “so it has been rendered safe”.

The council has also issued 19 safety letters to developers to secure sites with proper fencing, fill open excavations, eliminate trip hazards, remove building materials and rubbish, remove unsightly signs, maintain open spaces, protect manhole covers, restrict access to upper floors and complete public lighting – progress on which was welcomed by Cllr Sean Treacy (FF).

In one case, Mr Moran said, the developer was seen on site the day after receiving the letter from the council. “He was giving out about us writing to him but he was back on site,” Mr Moran said, although he added that “on a few sites we have visited there has been no progress.”

In two developments that are in receivership, the council is waiting to hear back from the banks in question as to whether the units can be brought into the council’s long-term leasing programme to accommodate people on the waiting list for housing, Mr McCormack said.

Citing the “huge amount of vacant houses” around the county, Cllr Maurice Shortall (Lab) said of the long-term leasing scheme: “The more we can get them into it, the better.”

Of the overall 76 estates, applications to be taken in charge by the council have been made at Riverside in Ballyragget, Lios na Si in Johnstown, Chapelfields in Urlingford, Archersfield in Kilmoganny, Aylesbury, Belmont in Ferrybank/Belview, Robertshill in Kilkenny, and Castlehill (Bennettsbridge Road), Margaretsfield (Callan Road), Richview (Castlecomer Road) in the Kilkenny city environs. Cottage Gardens in Graignamanagh also applied and was approved at this month’s council meeting.