Ghost estates in Ireland

Pictures of ghost estates from 2008

Ghost estate?Some interesting new research on ghost estates by Ireland After Nama (IAN) can be studied here. The resultant data map is also worth viewing – the full image is at this link.

Justin Gleeson, Peter Foley and Rob Kitchin found “there are 74 estates [which entered the national address database before December 31 2007]… where over 30 percent of the houses have been under-construction or vacant for over 2 years.”

Considering the property market peaked somewhere around December 2006, it’s fair to conclude the majority of dwellings covered in the research are likely to remain in their respective categories for some time. Why, in two years, would someone buy a house that has been unoccupied for five years, when they could get a brand-spanking-new gaff at a similar price? Of course, that thought-process assumes the property market will be on the up by 2012, as claimed by Government, thus there will be new gaffs to buy. That’s not at all guaranteed.

Furthermore, in two years time, even if the market has risen, many of the now-vacant dwellings will have been built during a period when cost of construction was extremely high. Many developers will have to take a big hit if they choose to maintain then sell their unsold properties.

It’s therefore likely a large percentage of the vacant or ‘under-construction’ dwellings will be demolished, particularly those in the more rural areas.

IAN also state “[…] these ghost estates comprise 3180 dwellings, 1287 of which are occupied, 1023 under-construction and 870 vacant”.

I’ve done some back-of-the-envelope workings in an attempt to find national figures using these percentages. 96,419 new dwellings were completed in 2006 (the year much of the dwellings covered in the IAN research would have entered the database, one assumes). That’d work out at approximately 35,000 under-construction and 15,000 vacant dwellings… then add in 2007 completions (which fell on the previous year). Note: I said back-of-the-envelope, these would be dependent on the location, size and quality of the dwellings constructed in that period – i.e. how easy they were to sell.

Also; check out the locations of the most-ghostly of the estates. Outer Galway, Longford, Monaghan, South Kerry, Roscommon… even a revived Celtic Tiger will be breathless again before it reaches there.

Of what is all this sympthomatic? Poor planning, poor tax policy.

5 thoughts on “Ghost estates in Ireland”

  1. @Thor Fundamentally, yes, that’s true but there’s also the issue of the power wielded by the unelected i.e. local government officials who are responsible for granting planning applications. Unfortunately none of the parties out there offer anything radically different from each other, so where is proper reform going to come from? (my own opinion is that community action and organisation outside of the main political-bureaucratic system is the way forward)

  2. The planners would have refused many more developments if it was not for political pressure, particularly at local level

  3. Further analysis vital to establish the basis of occupation for many of these properties.
    If rented-out initially are they still occupied?
    ‘Occupied’ on a second home basis?
    Occupied (or due to be occupied) by local authority lease for social housing?

    I know many ghost estates where there is a combination of occupied and unfinished houses. Roads, paths and fencing remain unfinished. Where the occupied houses are rented there is likely to be an exodus over time. The negative equity in owner-occupied houses will probably never be surmounted.

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