Last week I was reported in the local newspapers as saying that the County Development Plan should be used for the benefit of local communities by sorting out the problem of ghost and unfinished estates.
The review of the CDP is presently taking place and I have suggested that builders who are applying for permission for multiple developments should be encouraged to take over ghost estates and develop those before they attempt to develop greenfield sites.
We are aware that there are so many unfinished estates in Donegal and Letterkenny is no different. It is demeaning and soul destroying for a family to live and bring up their children in an estate where many of the houses are unfinished and have no prospect of being developed in the near future. I think that any family deserves to be living in a properly planned and community-orientated housing development. However we have allowed the builders and property speculators to destroy many areas and I feel that instead of granting permissions to builders of new developments, that we must instead insist that existing developments are completed so that families can bring their children up in a normal environment.
Many of these estates are under the control of NAMA and there are many good builders still in operation in Donegal. A role of NAMA should be to release these properties to interested builders who could both provide employment for local people and finish these estates to acceptable standards.
The National Development Housing Survey, which was published recently, found that there were 133 ghost estates in Donegal, a shocking figure which highlights the surplus of empty housing in the county. However we could turn this bad situation into an opportunity by putting a provision into the CDP which states that, in an area where there is a builder keen on developing properties, that the council will only approve developments that will complete ghost estates.