Legal action initiated against developers for unfinished Mullingar estates

Almost two thirds of Mullingar’s housing estates are not yet controlled by the council, and a number of developers are being taken to court on account of not finishing estates around the town.

This was revealed at the monthly meeting of the Mullingar area committee this week in a report into how many of the 53 housing estates in the two Mullingar electoral areas had been taken in charge by the council. In keeping with council policy, though, none of these developers who have had writs issued against them were named in the chamber.

The term‘taken in charge’ is used to describe the process when a building developer officially completes an estate to the satisfaction of the local authority, which then assumes responsibility for the upkeep of drainage, grass cutting, street lighting, and footpath maintenance in the public areas of the estate.

In recent years, with the growing number of developers facing difficulties and leaving neighbourhoods unfinished, this has become one of the most common complaints to the elected representatives, and so a report into how the land lay on the issue was ordered.

Westmeath County Council began the process to take in charge 15 estates containing over 1,200 houses between Kinnegad and Rathowen last July, and this week senior executive officer at the Legal and Enforcement Department, Pat Keating explained how this had been fulfilled in seven estates and would be soon completed in another eight. He also proposed the commencement of proceedings in another four.

“Westmeath County Council has begun to take developers to court,” he admitted, but gave no further detail.

Mr Keating pointed out that 34 estates around Mullingar had never been formally taken in charge, and of these the seven year window of permission to do so had expired in 22 of them.

He explained the process must begin with the council putting up public notices in the proposed estates which have passed council muster, and this was followed by the usual period for public observations and submissions, and consultation with any residents’ associations that might have already been set up in the area.

Cllr Mick Dollard asked about older estates like Lynderry Court and Highfield that might have been built for 30 or 35 years where the developers are long gone or dead.

Mr Keating explained that for estates like these, whose completion occurred more than seven years ago, the residents themselves have to apply to the council to have them taken in charge, and that a number of them prefer the arrangements their residents associations had set up already.

“In the newer estates, in most cases, bonds are in place, so we’re fairly safe,” he added.

Cllr Denis Leonard paid tribute to Mr Keating and the staff at the Enforcement Department, and told the meeting about an estate in Kinnegad “where the lights were switched on for the first time in six years”.

The seven estates taken in charge are: College Vale, Brosna Close, Greenpark Vale, Shandonagh, Toberaquill Monilea, all Mullingar; Cluain Craobh, Kinnegad, and Inish Glora, Ballinalack.

The eight estates soon to be taken over are: Ardilaun Heights and Green, Ardleigh Vale, Gate, Crescent and Park, Central Park, Richdale Court, all Mullingar; Riverside, Riverside Lawns, Manorfield, Hawthorns, all Kinnegad, Windtown Park, Rathowen.

The four just proposed are: Hillview, Hazelgrove, Ballinderry Orchards, and Lakepoint (not including Gleann Petit ), all Mullingar.

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