Ghost estates that blighted many Laois towns after the banking and property crash of a decade ago may be banished, but the problems still haunting numerous boom time housing estates still remain.
Right across the county in towns and even some smaller villages, developments built during the boom remain incomplete, riddled with defects and infrastructural deficiencies which continue to be a major headache for home owners.
In lots of cases the householders paid out big money at the height of the boom to purchase their own homes, only now to be left in limbo, the developers in many instances gone to the wall.
The outstanding and resolved issues keep landing themselves on the door of Laois County Council who are being asked to pick up the pieces and the tab to fix the problems and to take the estates in charge.
It is a wearisome and protracted process of all sides, not least the homeowners stuck in the middle with hefty mortgages.
One such estate which is still enduring major issues is Slí na Móna in Portarlington, but it’s far from the only one.
Cllr Aisling Moran raised the issue of a rotten and depleted perimeter fence at the Port’ estate but as other councillors for the area, Aidan Mullins and Tom Mulhall noted, the fence paled to insignificance compared to bigger problems which had prevailed for years.
Other issues include poor water pressure, blocked sewerage pipes, foul odours and wrongly located venting.
Cllr Aidan Mullins said that the estate was inflicted with a litany of problems. The estate he said was testament to poor planning and shoddy workmanship.
“There are countless problems here and it’s being going on for years. How they were allowed to be built in a bog in the first place I don’t know,” he asked. There were also suggestions he said that someone who had fallen out with the main contractor had poured concrete into the system which is blocking some of the pipes.
That might explain the stench, sewerage and water system problems referred to by Cllr Tom Mulhall.
“The developer went belly-up. There was a major bond and fortunately that was called upon before it expired as the Council had to go after it legally. It was an inexperienced developer who just got in to building houses at the peak of the Tiger, there are all sorts of problems there.”
Clarmallagh Estate in the Swan
Cllr Aidan Mullins also sought for the local authority to take in charge the Clarmallagh Estate in Thw Swan.
He was informed that the Council has not received the CCTV survey or the AS-Constructed Drawings for this development. A CCTV survey is to be carried out by the end of October and depending on the results of this, the taking in charge process will progress from there.
Cil an Oir Graiguecullen
Also waiting to be taken in charge is the Cil an Oir estate in Graiguecullen.
It was Cllr Padraig Fleming who raised the issue of this estate which continues to be affected by flooding and drainage issues. There is also the matter of cappings missing from the boundary wall.
In reply the Council’s planners noted: “the surface water gullies will be jetted out within the next two weeks. This estate was built by Lalor Builders Ltd. It has not been taken in charge. The planning department will try to make contact with the developer to progress repairs to the boundary wall and to commence the taking in charge process.”
Cllr Fleming said the estate was constantly hit by flooding in heavy rainfall and the issue of the wall was only a small job. He wasn’t overly thrilled with the reply he had received he said, but the situation is typical of so many housing estates.
Commenting on the scenario in general Cllr Aisling Moran asked the six million dollar question.
“How are builders getting away with all this and getting back their bond when there are still loads of issues, widespread problems and incomplete works while it is the residents that are suffering?”
Killenard, Ballybrittas and Stradbally
Cllr Tom Mulhall said that the situation seemed to be getting worse as it was proving harder than ever to have estates taken in charge. He noted that of all the properties in Killenard only one estate had yet been taken in charge. Similar delays prevailed in relation to developments in Ballybrittas and Stradbally.
“It’s being going on and on for years, there’s always some excuse and huge delays. There is a huge fall off in progress in taking-in-charge estates and yet people paid dearly and big money and are getting no services in return. The Council are going to have to up their game,” he maintained.
There was some good news from Director of Services, Mr Gerry Murphy who said that there is progress being made in relation to Killenard Lodge where he expected to see a resolution very soon regarding their connection to the water mains.
They are currently taking a supply from a private source which is deemed to be contaminated and has necessitated the residents being on a boil notice for the past 8 years.
This matter was recently highlighted by Cllr Mulhall, supported by Cllr Aidan Mullins.