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Written Answers - Local Authority Charges

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 309.  Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  the safeguards in place to ensure that the criteria for inclusion in the list of category three and four unfinished housing estates are being applied consistently across all counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6292/12]

 310.  Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  the appeals process available to residents, who feel that their estate has been wrongly overlooked for inclusion in the list of category three and four unfinished housing estates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6293/12]

 323.  Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government with Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  the exception of estates (details supplied), the reason the rest of Clongriffin, Dublin 13, is not exempt from the household charge in view of the fact that no part of the estate is finished and there are many serious challenges facing residents in Clongriffin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6483/12]

 351.  Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  if he will outline the way those who live in unfinished housing estates and are not on the published list of unfinished estates and therefore are not exempted from the household charge can appeal the decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6891/12]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I propose to take Questions Nos. 309, 310, 323 and 351 together.

As part of the process of preparing the National Housing Development Survey 2011, published by my Department in October 2011, local authorities provided details of all unfinished housing developments in their areas. Unfinished housing developments were divided into four categories as follows:

Category one, where the development is still being actively completed by the developer, or where no serious public safety issues exist;

Category two, where a receiver has been appointed;

Category three, where a receiver has not been appointed and the developer is still in place but effectively inactive; and

Category four, where the development has been effectively abandoned and is posing serious problems for residents.

Other relevant factors for the purposes of the categorization process include, inter alia:

the state of completion of roads, footpaths, public lighting facilities, piped water and sewerage facilities and open spaces or similar amenities within the development;

the extent to which the development complies with the terms of applicable planning permission;

[463] the extent to which it complies with the provisions of the Building Control Acts 1990 and 2007;

the provisions of the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Act 1964 as they pertain to dangerous places and dangerous structures within the meaning of the Act;

the extent to which facilities within the development have been taken in charge by the local authority concerned; and

where there is an agreement regarding the maintenance of such facilities, the extent to which this agreement has been complied with.

In some cases a local authority may have found that conditions in respect of a certain phase of a development were relatively good and that, for example, no serious public safety issues could be identified. This phase of the development may have been categorised under category 1 or 2. Conversely, safety issues may have been identified in another phase of the same overall development, or development in that second phase may have been abandoned altogether, implying a category 3 or 4 identification for that phase. This categorisation formed the basis for the list of those unfinished developments eligible for a waiver on the annual household charge.

Only households in developments in categories three and four are eligible for the waiver from payment of the household charge. This list of developments in which households are eligible for the waiver in 2012 is set out under the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 and forms the complete list of such developments for this year. The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 does not provide for an appeals facility in this regard. A revised list of estates will be prescribed for 2013 after which time the waiver for unfinished housing developments will end. Throughout this period it is anticipated that the numbers of categories 3 and 4 developments will decrease as my Department continues to work with local authorities and other stakeholders to resolve outstanding issues, including through the Public Safety Initiative.


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