Bad builders should be named and shamed

Developers of unfinished housing estates should be named and shamed, according to Laois County Councilors.

Developers of unfinished housing estates should be named and shamed, according to Laois County Councilors.

Speaking at Laois County Council this week Cllr John King said the bad state of these estates now, was due to greed at the time.

Cllr Alan Hand agreed that the developers should be named and shamed.

“Some of these developers are masquerading as pillars of the community and have escaped the wrath of the community. They should be named and shamed,” he said.

Cllr Hand said a lot of people who bought these houses were commuters and were leaving their houses at 7am each morning, to come back to a train wreck in the evening.

Councillors received a detailed report on the Unfinished Housing Estates across the county, at their monthly meeting.

They were full of praise for the planning section of the council, who have so far secured the bonds on ten out of the eighteen estates they pursued.

A survey carried out by the Department of Environment in 2010 revealed 70 unfinished housing estates in county Laois, which were categorised into four separate categories.

However, the council had set up a dedicated team to deal with these estates in 2008, which includes a full time senior executive technician and clerical officer.

The council also set aside money each year for work in these estates.

Senior executive engineer with the Planning Department, Kieran Kehoe outlined the different legistlation available to the council in dealing with developers who have abandoned their estates.

He said the S35 notice, which gives the council the power to refuse a subsequent planning application from the developer, based on his previous record, was the most effective.

“We have issued three section 35 notices on developers and the work was done immediately. Laois were only the second. In the case of Barrowvale in Graiguecullen, the council issued an enforcement notice and a section 12 water pollution notice. They were successful in having convictions and fines imposed against the developers in court.

“Barrowvale was one of the worse from a cost point of view, it looked ok from the outside but the waste and surface water systems were badly constructed. We estimated that the works would have cost €605,000 to complete but the bond company completed the work.”

The council used their own staff to clean up the Ballacollig estate in Mountmellick, which the cash bond of €501,619 was called in. The council spent almost €150,00 on the estate.

Cllr John Moran congratulated Kieran Kehoe and his staff on the work they had carried out across the county.

“In some of these estates the lives of people have been greatly improved,” he said.

Cllr Paul Mitchell said it was a success story for the council, but acknowledged that 1,000s of houses had been giving planning permission in Port, which was out of proportion.

“I walked the site in Gleanall in Borris-in-Ossory after I was contacted by the residents there. I couldn’t believe the way it had been left. It was absolutely disgraceful,” Cllr John Joe Fennelly said.

While, Cllr Tom Mulhall said it was like cleaning up after a storm.