A survey, due to be completed next month, is expected to give a full picture of the extent of the problems caused by ‘ghost estates’ - 26 such estates are believed to be in Galway alone.
The nationwide survey of unfinished housing developments will not only clarify the problems that exist but also help to define what actions should be taken in each county.
A pilot phase of the survey, conducted in Co Laois by Department of the Environment officials, found that some estates posed a health risk. The risks were caused by developers failing to complete sewerage systems, water contamination, unfinished roads, and open manholes. It is believed that similar risks could be found in unfinished estates in other counties including Galway.
Earlier this year, a survey carried out by the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis revealed that Galway had some of the highest number of ‘ghost estates’ in the State. Of the 621 ‘ghost estates’ in the Republic, a total of 26 were located in Galway - six in the city and 20 in the county.
In advance of the publication of the new survey, the Department of Environment is currently drawing up guidelines for local authorities which detail the statutory powers available to them to address problems in such estates. The guidelines include recommendations on environmental protection, public safety, building control, and details on the provision of bonds or securities to cover the costs of finishing such developments. The survey will also outline the different ownership arrangements that are in place and indicate which properties could come under NAMA control.