Forty housing estates in Westmeath are to be taken in charge by the council before the end of 2011.
A list of housing developments soon to come under the control of the council was presented to councillors this week. The county manager recommended 10 estates for immediate taking in charge, including Ardmore Hills in Mullingar, Sliabh Rua in Moate, as well as estates in Kinnegad, Killucan, Collinstown, Castlepollard, and Clonmellon.
Pat Keating of the council’s enforcement section also made some recommendations to prevent a recurrence of the recent problems with frozen water pipes.
Department of the Environment regulations state that water mains should be buried at a depth of 900mm and service pipes at 600mm. The top of the stopcock should be a minimum of 300mm below ground level.
“The problem with frozen pipes occurred during an exceptionally cold spell and some of the problems were in estates built 20 or more years ago. The problem was widespread and we have served warning lettters on developers in 10 or 15 estates,” said Mr Keating.
The council has a major role in relation to housing estates, which begins when councillors make decisions on the zoning of land. The council subsequently makes decisions on planning applications and carries out compliance checks on the estates. At some point the estates come back before the members to be considered for taking in charge.
There are currently 153 estates in the county that have not yet been taken in charge, and planning permission has expired in 106 of these.
No new housing estates have been commenced since early 2007. Compliance checks are being carried out on all estates, with the council paying particular attention to unfinished estates where permission has expired.