THREE families who have been unable to take occupancy of their Killaloe homes, were joined by a large group of people in staging a public protest outside the estate on Tuesday. Michele Burke and William Buck, John Ryan senior and John Ryan junior of Castleconnell have been locked out of their homes at Ard na Deirge for over six years.
Clare County Council has insisted that a recent statement concerning the status of a €494,000 planning bond for the Killaloe ghost estate is not in conflict with new information contained in planning documents.
Last week, the council stated it is not in a position to draw down a bond for Ard na Deirge when a “live planning permission is in place”.
The initial planning permission for Ard na Deirge was granted in 2004. It was being developed by John Gallagher until he experienced serious financial difficulties, which resulted in the site being taken over by AIB, who appointed KPMG as its receiver.
The bank lodged another planning application to extend time for the completion of 27 houses in the estate, excluding those of Michele Burke and William Buck, John Ryan Senior and John Ryan Junior, who have been locked out of their homes for over six years.
According to new planning documents obtained by The Clare Champion, in a letter to KPMG receiver Padraic Monaghan on August 10 2012, the council stated condition 19 required the lodgement of a cash deposit, a bond of an insurance company or other security to ensure satisfactory completion of the estate.
“I wish to advise you that it will not be possible to apply the bond held under planning permission P04/1859 as the bond is linked to the actual planning permission.”
This letter also confirmed that a planning contribution of €203,170.34 was paid on February 17, 2007 in respect of the first phase of 30 houses of Ard na Deirge and another €182,853.32 was paid on August 27, 2007 concerning the second phase of 27 houses, which was never built.
On November 9, 2009, John Gallagher’s solicitor, John Cooke from Hospital, County Limerick wrote to the planning department requesting a rebate in the sum of €182,853.32, which he claimed was owed to his client, who had indicated he would not be commencing phase two of the development.
Another council letter sent on September 7, 2007 to Mr Gallagher’s solicitors at the time, Padraig O’Donovan and Co Solicitors of Tallaght, Dublin, stated “There is a bond in place BN300 with no expiry date to the satisfaction of the planning authority”.
Another planning document entitled Contributions and Sureties dated June 18, 2007, stated a planning bond BN300 of €494,000 was entered on February 19, 2007 with “no expiry date”.
Commenting on these documents, Ms Burke claimed it is not correct to state the council cannot draw down the bond because of the An Bord Pleanála permission, considering it is linked to the actual 2004 permission. She also pointed out the planning documents also state the existing planning bond has no expiry date, which she claims removes any obstacles in drawing it down immediately.
In view of the fact that phase two of the development hasn’t taken place, she asked the council to consider spending the €182,853.32 on completing services to allow the three home owners enter their houses.
Planning director of services Ger Dollard stated the overall issue appears to be getting lost in the focus on the bond, which doesn’t represent the solution to the problem , which is a satisfactory completion of the development.
Mr Dollard insisted the parties responsible for completing this development rests primarily with the receiver and AIB, who are currently in control of the property.
“There is a bond under the previous permission which is held by the council. Drawing down of any bond involves a complex process with the bondholder.
“There is no conflict in the council’s statements. A bond is held under the previous permission and a further new permission also has a condition requiring that a bond be lodged. The correspondence in 2012 centred on obtaining such a bond, which would be in lieu of the bond currently held. Two bonds would not be held in respect of the same development.
“It is not open to the council to enter on a site which it doesn’t own and is in the control of others and undertake works on private property, even if no other issues arose,” he said.
“The reference to €182,853 relates to the payment of development contributions in accordance with the Development Contribution Scheme and has nothing to do with the bond requirement or value. These are completely separate issues and linking them together only confuses the matter further. Development contributions are collected by the council towards improvements in infrastructure in the areas of roads, water services, recreation, amenities etc and any monies received by the council have been long since spent,” he added.