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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ghost Estates For Unemployed...

UK firm in talks over ghost estates project...

A BRITISH firm that wants to use ghost estates to train unemployed apprentices is to meet with the Minister for Housing and the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency tomorrow.

Equity Share Partnership (ESP) wants to use the unfinished properties to provide training and housing for the unemployed.

It has begun negotiations with Nama, Fás and the banks to complete two pilot projects on ghost estates in Bandon, Co Cork, and Kilminchy, Co Laois.

The company said it has financial backing to invest €10 million in the schemes and it hopes to begin work in December.

The firm plans to buy the unfinished estates and take on apprentices and unemployed skilled and unskilled workers to complete them. Apprentices will continue to claim unemployment assistance, but they will be given the training necessary to complete their apprenticeships.

Other workers will continue to claim unemployment assistance but, in return for their labour, they will be given a 20 per cent equity stake in one of the properties they have worked on. They will also have an option to rent the property and buy it later, retaining their equity for five years.

The firm will have an 80 per cent stake in the properties and will make its profit from their sale.

Michael Litman from ESP said they will be looking for unemployed people who are also in need of housing. He said they had successfully completed a similar project in Cambridgeshire and were very hopeful that the model would work in Ireland.

John O’Connor, chief executive of the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency, said the agency was very supportive of the proposals. “It is an excellent idea if it can be made to work,” he said.

The ideal would be if unemployed people living in the same locality as the unfinished estates, who were interested in buying their own home, got involved in the building work, he said.

There could also be a role for local authorities. The State would gain by seeing the estates completed without outlay, he added.

Report by FIONA GARTLAND - Irish Times

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