Archive for August 16th, 2010

While the Great Count of the number and condition of our Ghost Estates continues, interested parties are beginning to set out or amplify their positions on the future of Ghost Estates. The results of the Great Count are due next month, though as Professor Rob Kitchin of NIRSA has pointed out the count only  includes “post-April 2007 housing estates where there is vacancy above 10%. It therefore a) excludes estates where vacancy is below 10%, b) excludes unoccupied/unfinished one-off housing, c) it assumes that estates started prior to April 2007 are both finished and have occupancy levels above 90%”. My betting is that many people will feel aggrieved in September when they find out that their estate has been omitted from the count.

NAMA is keeping schtumm for the time being so we don’t know how many estates will end up with NAMA nor specifically how NAMA will evaluate the six options it says are open to it – demolish, sell, hoard, manage, lease or develop. God knows how these estates are being valued as part of the loan transfer exercise.

First up, the Irish Times reports that Tom Parlon of the Construction Industry Federation appears to be calling for the development, hoarding (mothballing), leasing and demolition options but demolition as a last resort.

Next up, An Taisce, who in the past seem to have been worried about the estates being a blot on the landscape and have called for some to returned to nature. Today they call for demolition and re-housing of residents to other more suitable property.

Sinn Fein call for more transparency – who owns the estates and is there funding to enable to completion of estates or the correction of faults such as contaminated water and unfinished roads? They would also like to see the estates used for more social purposes, nursing homes etc.

Fine Gael call for an extension of Dublin’s Rent-to-Buy scheme and for unemployed builders to be used to finish out estates or correct faults so that estates don’t become (or continue to be) health hazards.

Elsewhere today, the Irish Times examines three estates in Laois where a preliminary study found severe health and safety issues. Also in an opinion piece, the Irish Times says that Minister for Planning Ciaran Cuffe is drafting guidelines for councils in respect of ghost estates and the IT calls for taxpayer involvement in some estates “along commuter corridors or where demographic demand is likely to emerge”

An interesting point to arise in today’s “manifestos” is the claim by Tom Parlon that there may be money out there with councils to help finish estates – “these estates local authorities have bonds, but there are also development contributions, large amounts of which remain unspent by local authorities”. Although we have gotten used to councils pleading poverty, is it indeed the case that there is money for dealing with these estates? Sadly the Great Count is apparently not considering this aspect to the problem.

It is to be hoped that when the Great Count is complete, that cool heads examine what could be a colossal national resource which could assist in the economic and competitive transformation that is needed to recover from the financial crisis.

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