Friday, 10 June 2011

Banks Ignoring Ghost Estates...

Banks 'ignoring their ghost estates'...

BANKS are choosing to avoid the legal responsibility for cleaning up hundreds of unfinished housing estates.

Some 230 unfinished and dangerous estates have been abandoned by developers -- and banks which funded the projects have decided not to appoint receivers in an attempt to claw back the money.

If receivers were appointed the banks would be legally responsible for clearing up the mess.

Banks across the board have been blamed for refusing to address the problem.

According to Housing Minister Willie Penrose, in some cases efforts by local authorities to meet with banks and developers to discuss the problem had met with no response. Banks also failed to appoint people to deal with the issue.

He warned he would consider introducing legislation forcing the banks to take responsibility, or face the prospect of being fined.

"I'll be looking to the banks and developers to designate key contacts. I'm also examining the Derelict Sites Act to see if it needs to be amended," he said.

"If there is any reluctance or delay they will be hit with the act and other legislation where required.

A new report setting out how to deal with the problem of unfinished estates says there are 1,655 developments with outstanding works needed.

Of these, 230 have effectively been abandoned, where the developer or site owner is not contactable, where no receiver has been appointed and where there are "significant planning, building control compliance and public safety issues to be addressed".

One developer was traced to Australia where he is working as a carpenter, it emerged yesterday. No further details were available.

The Government says that work on making these sites safe will begin within weeks.

Some €1.5m has been allocated to 10 local authorities to complete basic safety works such as filling trenches, fencing-off building sites and installing manhole covers. Another €3.5m will be paid out over the coming months.

A National Co-ordination Committee -- made up of groups representing bankers, developers, the Department of the Environment and local authorities and chaired by Mr Penrose -- will manage the work at a local and national level.

The 'Resolving Ireland's Unfinished Housing Developments' report found that there are 23,250 complete and vacant units across the State, and another 9,976 dwellings nearing completion.

Bank of Ireland, one of the biggest lenders during the boom, said it would not comment. Irish Nationwide said its loans had been transferred to NAMA, while Ulster Bank added that each development was treated on a case-by-case basis.

There was no response from Anglo Irish Bank and AIB was unavailable for comment last night.

Report by Paul Melia Irish Independent

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