'Ghost Housing' Estates In Focus

The issue of unfinished Houses across the Irish State is to be tackled at top level.

Encouraged by many developers' determination to finish their work, John O'Connor, Chief Executive of the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency (Housing Agency) and Chairman of the Advisory Group on Unfinished Housing Developments has just published a draft Guidance Manual for Managing and Resolving Unfinished Housing Developments.

He said it is a consultation draft to seek the views and input of the general public, local authorities and key stakeholders in the house-building sector.

The guidance document was prepared by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Advisory Group on Unfinished Housing Developments.

The Advisory Group was established jointly by Michael Finneran, the Minister for Housing and Local Services and Ciarán Cuffe, Minister of State, with Special Responsibility for Planning, Sustainable Transport and Horticulture and follows the publication of the National Housing Development Survey in October 2010.

A recently published survey established an authoritative baseline analysis at a national level of unfinished housing developments and provides a sound basis to assist local authorities in identifying those developments that require priority interventions.

The draft manual now aims to provide the necessary tools to ensure that these unfinished housing developments are effectively managed through the current economic difficulties and resolved as quickly as possible by identifying the key stakeholders and setting out their roles and responsibilities in addressing unfinished housing developments and developing a framework for site resolution plans and a process for engagement with local residents.

The plan is also to establish an Unfinished Housing Developments Team in each local authority, identify the type of developments and issues that need to be prioritised for action in the short term and by summarising the wide range of statutory powers currently at the disposal of local authorities to resolve urgent matters, create an organisational context for leadership on this issue at local authority and national levels building on existing good practice approaches that have been developed in Ireland and elsewhere in dealing with the issue.

Minister Finneran welcomed the publication by the Advisory Group of this consultative draft guidance manual and reiterated the Government's ongoing commitment to "providing a holistic, cross-sectoral suite of policy measures and good practice solutions to address the breadth and scale of issues, with a particular focus on relieving urgent difficulties for residents in these estates".

Minister Cuffe added: "Following publication of the National Housing Survey results, the focus must now be on action to be taken quickly to effectively tackle issues on unfinished housing estates through the provision of practical measures and a collaborate approach."

Submissions on the content and recommendations contained in the draft Guidance manual will be considered by the Advisory Group and incorporated into a final version of the manual to be published by the two Ministers in February 2011.


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