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Councillors critical of delay in estate takeovers

THE delay in Clare County Council taking over private housing schemes in South-East Clare has been criticised by local county councillors.
The lack of a definite timescale for taking the Westbury estate in charge was highlighted by Councillor Cathal Crowe at a local authority meeting on Monday.
Requesting a debate on the process, Councillor Crowe said that there were up to 1,000 houses in the Westbury Housing Scheme, which are still not under the charge of the council.
He added that there were other estates in a similar position, claiming an estate in Ardnacrusha is still not taken over 20 years on, with residents waiting for private housing schemes to be taken in charge in Parteen, Cratloe and Clonlara village.
“It is up to the council’s planning enforcement section to ensure that every developer is complying to the planning conditions attached to a grant of permission before the statue of limitations runs out after 12 years.
“There are numerous cases of residents being left in limbo waiting for broken footpaths, lights and potholes on roads to be fixed. The council will say it is up to the developer and in some cases, the developer loses interest in the upkeep of a private housing scheme.
“It all comes down to planning enforcement from day one. Planning permission conditions need to be inspected on a regular basis,” he said.
Councillor Pascal Fitzgerald proposed that estates be taken in charge after three years and not 12 or 20 years, like some of the situations councillors had been alerted to.
“Councillors want a proper answer to this situation. The council should be taking enforcements but nothing is happening. The council needs to get its act together.”
Councillor Joe Arkins warned that the situation concerning taking estates in charge is getting very complicated because a big issue had emerged about bonds and how much they would cover once a developer went out of business.
“The budget for taking in charge estates is €65,000; you would hardly take one house in charge for that,” he said.
Housing director of services, Nora Kaye, confirmed that the council only had €65,000 to take over housing estates. She also confirmed that only four estates were taken in charge by the council to date in 2009 in the county, compared with nine last year.
“All housing development final grants contain specific conditions requiring the developer to complete the development in accordance with the full set of conditions and required standards.
“It is the responsibility of the developer to ensure that all conditions are complied with.
“Once a valid taking in charge application is received, the taking in charge procedure is activated. For example, site inspections carried out, reports prepared, developer requested to carry out any outstanding works, etc.
“If the development is completed to a satisfactory standard, the statutory process for taking in charge is commenced. If the development is not completed to standard, enforcement action is initiated,” she said.
Councillor Crowe stressed that the council finances should not be used as a barrier to prevent the take-over of estates once a developer adhered to the planning conditions.

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