‘Time-bomb’ warning for council

Over 60 housing estates yet to be taken in charge

CONCERN is mounting for the future upkeep of many private housing estates in Limerick.

A cash-strapped city council is faced with taking in charge over 60 housing estates, the majority of which will require a significant financial outlay to bring them up to standard.

Failure to implement enforcement measures against erring developers sees homeowners living in estates that are rapidly deteriorating.

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City Council concede it is facing huge costs,  and fear if a boundary extension is granted, the situation will be exacerbated.

Representatives were made aware of the gravity of the situation when council executives emphasised that resources will ultimately dictate how many of the estates involved, will in fact, be taken in charge.

Cllr Joe Leddin warned: “Council has a time-bomb in its hands”.

Placing blame on the local authorities and governments for failing to ensure that developers completed estates to standards, Cllr Ger Fahy, said the backlog of estates to be taken in charge had grown to an alarming number, and that many developers had walked away.

“There was a serious lack of enforcement on the developers who defaulted,  but there are also some genuine developers who have gone bust and subsequently, can’t give what they haven’t got, but going forward we now must enforce our strategy to have estates completed’.

Of estates recently taken in charge the council found that in the case of Richmond Park, remedial costs were in the region of €10,000, in Johnsgate Village the developer paid a sum to facilitate the completion of remedials, and at Coolraine Estate, the developer completed the remedials.  

Council is seeking the advice of senior counsel in relation to €200,000 required for remedial works in the Corbally estates of Meadowbrook and Silverbrook.

“Difficulties encountered in engaging with  developers are: encouraging them to expend sufficient resources to formalise documents to facilitate Taking in Charge:

Getting CCTV surveys of sewers completed: ensuring that the estate is completed in accordance with planning and completion of snag items,” says Pat Dromey, director of services, who adds:

“We had been in constant contact with a  developer for the taking in charge of up to 200  houses for three years, and while remedial works have been completed, we are awaiting the safety file and drawings”.

Cllr Joe Leddin asked if there were some provisions in legislation to allow them chase  developers who have disappeared – “I am going to have this raised in the Dail  –  there are two estates  that will require half a million euro before we can go in”.                                                       

 Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon pointed out:

“People want solutions but we have developers who have either washed their hands off estates or are in legal trouble and don’t care what happens – we must bring in enforcement”.

As well as the financial implications, there are delays in securing from the developers, snag lists, safety files, CCTV surveys of sewers, etc.

“If we can bail out the banks for billions, we have to ensure that there is some support going to local authorities to have works carried out and not have residents left with phone calls to developers, ringing out,” declared Cllr O’Hanlon.