Locals in County Carlow say it “beggars belief” that an estate of 63 fully-completed houses is lying idle in a housing crisis.
For The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Newstalk reporter Josh Crosbie travelled to some of Ireland’s remaining ‘ghost estates’ to hear from locals struggling to get on the housing ladder.
It comes after Department of Housing figures revealed that there are still 75 ghost estates dotted around the country.
While some are completely empty, others are half-full – with over 500 households living in ‘unfinished developments’ to this day.
Josh began his ghost estate tour at Glendale, just outside the town of Tullow – and was shocked to find 63 fully finished houses that have been lying empty for a decade.
He spoke to Tullow local Alan O’Reilly, the man behind the ‘Carlow Weather’ service to find out what is happening with the homes.
“It is kind of bizarre really for locals,” he said.
“We’ve been passing by it; maybe we’ve become used to seeing these houses fully finished.
“The recession came and things came to a halt and they’ve been halted ever since.
"Now we have a housing crisis and you might be talking about a lot of ghost estates maybe where there was only the base in – but here we have windows, we have doors, we have rooves, we have everything ready to go and it just seems like a huge opportunity that has been let go for the last ten years.”
After the economic crash, the entire estate was put on the market for a grand total of €150,000 – and eventually sold for €650,000.
In the years since, it has been going back and forth through planning – with the council calling for 14 of the homes to be bulldozed because they don’t have enough open space for county development plan standards.
Under the plan, homes should have 55 square metres of open space and the 14 homes in question only have 45.
“They might not be the perfect solution but they were granted planning permission back in 2004,” said Mr O’Reilly.
“They were good enough then and they’ve been built so let’s just get on with it.
“It literally was ready to go – it just beggars belief that they are sitting here … lying idle and have been for over ten years.
“I fear they will be for another ten years.”
Josh also spoke to Tullow auctioneer Marcus McCormack to find out how badly new homes are needed in the area.
“There are no new homes available in Tullow at this moment in time,” he said.
“There is a reasonable level of stock in second-hand properties in Tullow and in Carlow Town and in County Carlow, in general, the market for second-hand availability is only reasonable.”
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He said new homes are much more appealing to first-time buyers because they are A-rated and as a result, they can access green mortgages from the banks.
“We have a huge number of enquiries every day of the week,” he said. “Young couple coming in to see what’s available, checking out prices and so on.
“It is very, very frustrating when we have an unfinished development like we see in Tullow. It’s frustrating for us as auctioneers and obviously for first-time buyers and purchasers.”
The department figures show that between 2020 and 2022, there has been a 40% reduction in ‘unfinished’ developments in Ireland – down from 124 to 75.
Since 2010, there has been a 98% reduction in the number of unfinished housing developments, from 3,000 to 75.
You can listen back to Josh’s full report here: