THE developer responsible for a number of vacant houses in one of Portlaoise’s unfinished estates has given a promise that outstanding works will soon be completed, but residents still fear the issues will not be resolved before the estate is taken in charge by Laois County Council.
Mr John Brennan, director of Aston Homes, has said his company are “doing exactly what (residents) want” them to do, by dealing with some seven or eight vacant houses in the Aghnaharna estate that have fallen into disrepair and been badly vandalised. The houses are near to occupied homes and are located close to where the new schools will be, and concerns have been raised about anti-social behaviour as some of the houses have had windows broken and copper robbed.
Mr Brennan estimates that about seven or eight vacant houses are Aston Homes, three with broken windows which are boarded up. When it was put to him that some of the fencing had come down, Mr Brennan said: “The residents themselves have broken it down.”
He went on to say that workmen from his company were in the estate last week addressing the issues.
“Everything is ready, we’re doing exactly what they want, there’s not much more to be done,” he said, adding that he did “hope to get work done on the vacant houses”.
“The water meters have been read and there are six fellows checking for leaks, there are five leaks in the estate,” he explained.
In relation to the fencing that had fallen, Mr Brennan said: “We put a gate in the fencing that (the residents) can walk through. We want them to be happy too... we want to keep everyone happy.”
Mr Brennan also said that no residents had complained to him about the estate, and that another developer is also involved in Aghnaharna.
However, town councillor Caroline Dwane has said that according to the residents, nothing has been done to the vacant houses. Cllr Dwane, who has raised the matter at Portlaoise town council meetings, said this week that some work seems to have been done, in particular with blocked gullies, but the houses are still boarded up. She said residents feared that if the estate is taken in charge, the vacant houses may be left like that.
“It’s like that for seven years,” she said.
Cllr Dwane said she had been in contact with the planning department at Laois County Council and was waiting to hear on when the estate will be taken in charge.