The 2012 National Housing Development Survey has shown that significant problems still remain with efforts to tackle unfinished housing developments, especially in border counties such as Leitrim.
According to the survey Co Leitrim has the highest rate of vacant units in the State with the equivalent of 35 vacant units per 1,000 households. Overall, the county is only estimated to have 433 vacant units according to the survey.
The figures released by the Department of Environment says that nationally the number of unfinished housing estates has fallen over the past two years and Leitrim County Council has been active in trying to pursue developers of unfinished estates, however their efforts have been hampered by the red tape involved in dealing with such developments.
Nationally the number of houses that remain vacant stands at 16,881. 1,770 developments are incomplete and approximately 1,100 developments are said to be in a “seriously problematic condition”.
Areas with the highest levels of vacant housing include Leitrim, Longford, Cavan, Sligo, and Roscommon.
Local Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan said that while steady progress had been made in the last few years in tackling this problem, “hundreds of families are still enduring the stress and strain of living on an unfinished development”.
“The focus of the Government’s actions will now shift to resolving these developments, of which approximately 1,100 or so are in a seriously problematic condition,” he told the Leitrim Observer.
“Unfortunately, Leitrim and Roscommon are among the counties with the worst vacancy rates. However, recent experience has demonstrated how a realistic approach to estate completion involving all stakeholders can deliver results. As the Minister has noted, it must also be recognised that some of these developments are commercially unviable due to location, demand and build quality.
“The most prudent course of action in relation to these developments from a public safety, planning and commercial perspective is to seek the agreement of owners/funders to clear the site and return it to some beneficial use,” he added.