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Stanley calls on government to do more on unfinished housing estates

10 June, 2011 - by Brian Stanley TD

Commenting following the publication of the Report of the Advisory Group on Unfinished Housing Developments, Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson Deputy Brian Stanley, called on the government to do more to resolve the issue of “ghost estates.”

The Laois-Offaly TD said;

“I welcome the report on unfinished housing estates but clearly much more needs to be done by the Government on this issue. €5million has been allocated for public safety funding which is a start, but obviously given the sheer volume of ghost estates that we are faced with; this is inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem.

“Further to this, the Group have recommended that the Health and Safety Authority have a role in these sites. However, this misses the point as the HSA will only take on a role in sites which are active – almost all of the sites are inactive so obviously the agenda needs to be driven more by local authorities. As well as this, the proposed site resolution plans are a good idea but existing residents need to be at the front and centre of this. They are the people best placed to know what is needed.

“The report also contains proposals on the use of the Derelict Sites Act. While we believe there is a role for this particular piece of legislation to be used, it must be amended in order to allow its use in relation to new sites.

“There is a major weakness in response from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in that it has given no real commitment to use any of these developments for social housing. It is our view that there must be a social dividend from the NAMA-held properties. They could easily be used to house people on social housing waiting lists or be sold at affordable prices rather than continuing to fork out millions to private landlords for RAS. Affordable housing must be sold at a rate that is actually affordable for people. There must be a strategic integrated approach taken to this, and there is a real opportunity here for the Department to ensure that the developments become mixed-tenure estates rather than merely providing the same social housing ghettos of old.

“I welcome the first round of €1.5m funding that has been allocated to 11 County Councils across the state but it falls far short of what is actually needed. Four estates in Laois have been allocated funding of €59,000 which I have been lobbying officials for since the start of this year. €32,000 will go to the Glenall estate in Borris-in-Ossory, with the rest being divided between Slína Mona (Portarlington), Rushall (Mountrath), and Radharc na Sleibhte (Mountrath). This is a good start but I am seeking a commitment from the Minister to do more.”

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