'Living hell' of NI ghost estate
Two residents who bought new homes in a Co Down estate have described their lives as "absolute living hell" after the builder went into receivership leaving the site unfinished.
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
The chairman of Down District council has even described Quoile Crescent as a death trap.
A collapsed sewer, blocked toilets and spouting coming away from the walls - these are just a few of the many problems Harry McKenna has endured since moving into the crescent in Downpatrick in 2008.
He bought what should have been his dream family home in a Georgian town house development
for £218,000 - and hoped to spend many happy years there.
But so far, he has endured problem after problem.
Mr McKenna told UTV Live Tonight reporter Jane Loughrey that she was taking her life in her hands walking around his property.
"It is a health and safety issue. The toilet was blocked for nearly six months before the insurance company came in and put a temporary device in and now they are walking away from the problem too because it means digging up the whole kitchen floor to get to the problem."
The development has been left unfinished since the builder went bankrupt in 2010 - that means there are no roads, footpaths, street lighting or bin collections.
The state-of-the-art showhouse has been stripped bare and empty houses on the development regularly vandalized.
An exasperated Mr McKenna listed fault after fault...open sewers, broken manholes, fences knocked down, an exposed electricity meter box.
"A child could put its hand in to it," he added. "There are just numerous obstacles all over the site."
Raw sewage seeps near the only other occupied house on the estate.
A 6ft deep chasm has opened up just behind the home of George Greene and his wife.
Mr Greene told UTV that the house was bought for their retirement and now it is falling to ruin.
He said he was "disappointed" and sometimes felt down about the whole situation.
"You wonder what is going to happen."
With over five thousand houses across Northern Ireland unfinished due to the property collapse, Quoile Crescent's only residents believe it's time Stormont stepped in.
Every time they try to find answers about what exactly is happening closed doors meet them.
UTV approached the Ulster Bank, the estate's creditors, and were referred to the receivers the accountancy firm KPMG.
A spokesman from the firm said he had no comment to make.
The Department of Environment said that once planning permission is granted Quoile Crescent is no longer under its remit.
Meanwhile, the Department of Regional Development said it doesn't have the authority to take responsibility for roads or paths around private property, built on private land.
Where the sewers are concerned, NI Water told UTV that while it was trying to resolve the problem, the sewers remain in private ownership and the maintenance responsibility remains with the developer and successors.
The chairman of Down District Council visited the ghost estate to see the problems for himself.
Councillor Mickey Coogan's reaction upon visiting the site was one of horror.
Although he knew there were difficulties he admitted he wasn't aware of their extent until he arrived for his interview with UTV Live Tonight.
He described Quoile Crescent as "an absolute death trap," adding that the residents "are still being charged rates.
"We are obliged by land and property services to do that."
Cllr Coogan said all of the parties needed to "get round a table and bring our influence together in Stormont."