Security and cash held by Local Authorities must be released to complete unfinished housing estates – Daly

Cork County Council set to take charge of hundreds of estates making outlook for residents in unfinished areas infinitely brighter.

Fine Gael Cork South West TD, Jim Daly, has said that Local Authorities must be compelled to call in the bonds pledged by developers and to use the cash held by them as security to ensure that new and unfinished housing estates are completed to an acceptable standard.

Deputy Daly made the call as the Cork County Manager took the decision to bring before the council a proposal to take in charge hundreds of estates across the County, even if they are not completed, which will bestow responsibility on the Council to complete unfinished works.

“The living conditions being tolerated by the families that are living in unfinished estates would have to be seen to be believed. While the Government is working valiantly to address the issue, for many the living nightmare persists. In the case of most Local Authorities, a considerable amount of cash and developer bonds are being held to deal with this very issue and I believe that if Local Authorities were compelled by Government to use these resources, we could accelerate the rate of change for these put-upon families.

“This is an issue that I have been calling for action on in my own county since 2010, when I had the privilege of being Mayor of Cork County. At that time, the County Manager informed me that some €57 million was held by the Local Authority, in cash and bonds, to ensure the satisfactory completion of substandard housing estates. News that the Cork County Manager will bring a proposal to the Council which will see it assume responsibility for more than 300 housing estates, whatever their condition, is fantastic and will ensure the speedier completion of some unfinished estates. This initiative was contained in a proposal I put forward to the County Manager, Martin Riordan, when I was Mayor and he is to be commended for bringing the proposal to fruition.

“Since I was elected to Dáil Éireann in February 2011, I have raised the issue of releasing developer bonds and cash securities a number of times during parliamentary debates and have urged the Minister of State for Housing, Jan O’Sullivan TD, to carry out a national survey to establish the exact situation within Local Authorities across the country.

“Given that we are now five years into the economic crisis, I believe there should be no housing estates remaining in a derelict condition. The money is there to be spent, and should be spent, to complete substandard estates. Cork usually represents approximately 10% of the national profile which means, on that basis, there could be somewhere in the region of €570 million, or more than half a billion euro, available for such projects nationally. By addressing this problem we would not only be bringing estates up to an acceptable living standard, we would also be solving the living nightmare that is being experienced by so many people who are being forced to live in incomplete housing estates.

“Minister O’Sullivan has confirmed to me that she has agreed to my request by establishing a special group under the auspices of the National Co-ordination Committee on Unfinished Housing Estates to examine the situation nationally and to inform me of the findings in the coming months.

“I welcome this progress and, once a report on the issue is to hand, I will be pressing for swift action by Government to ensure that all Local Authorities deal with this long overdue issue once and for all.”