Many building developers in County Waterford have gone into liquidation and over a hundred housing estates have been left unfinished, a meeting of the County Council was told in Dungarvan last week.
Director of Services Brian White said a data base was being compiled of all housing estates and priority was being given to estates where it was rumoured that the developer had gone into liquidation. Some developers still had time within their planning grant to work on estates. Planning lasted for five years and until that period was completed it was difficult for the Council to draw down bonds.
Where possible the Council would take action against the developers who left estates unfinished but in some cases individuals had contacts and should take action themselves. There were some nightmare scenarios but the Council was dealing with people fairly. If councillors had information that a developer had gone out of business the officials would be glad to check it out.
In reply to questions, he said that the development charges raised by the Council through planning contributions were spent countrywide. It was the policy of the Council to draw down developer’s bonds but in some cases they were not sufficient to complete estates and people should contact their solicitors
Snag-lists not fixed
Cllr James Tobin (FF) said people were living on certain housing estates in the county for up to seven years and snag lists had been provided but nothing had been done to complete the estates and allow the Council to take them in charge. He felt sure that bonds would complete some of these estates and that line should be taken by the Council.
Residents of estates were ringing him complaining when public lights failed and water was cut off and he had to explain to them that the Council had nothing to do with it because the estates had not been taken in charge.
Cllr Nora Flynn (FG) said the Co. Council was the authority that granted planning permission for estates and there should be an assurance that estates would be completed. Somebody would have to finish these estates and it should not be the over burdened taxpayer. A lot of developers had gone out of business and the whole thing was a mess.
Mr White said snag lists were produced in respect of some estates and a lot of work was finished in the last few months. The Council had to be satisfied that estates were finished in accordance with planning permission. In some cases the Council was trying to draw in developer’s bonds. Some developers were anxious to get their hands of their bonds, he said.
Cllr Pat Nugent (FG) said the Council must be pro-active as estates were getting older. Drains were becoming blocked. The Council was advising residents to contact developers long gone and had done nothing about their snag list.
Mr White said people who bought houses had a contractual relationship with the developer and the first “port of call” was to have the contract honoured. The Council would not step in at an early stage to absolve developers of their responsibility.
The number of the development levy had dropped in the current year and planning applications were down by 50%. The Council had taken a sympatric approach in the case of genuine developers but the opposite approach in cases where houses had been sold.