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Council bonds laughable- residents

Members of the Woodvale Court Residents’ Association, Ms Chemey Lanz and Mr Dermot Lyster, were reacting to an article in the Donegal News (May 4) in which a council planner said the local authority was doing its best to facilitate residents of unfinished estates.

The pair live in neighbouring houses in the five-house Woodvale Court estate in Woodlands which is around one mile from Letterkenny.
Mr Lyster has described their dealings with the council’s planning and enforcement departments as “an exercise in frustration.”

“All we need in our small estate is a few streetlights and the road tarred. In our case the council has received monies from the bond issuer, but for reasons unknown, the council will not undertake works that need to be completed. It is hard enough getting the council to chase the bond issuer in the first place then we are faced with the additional obstacle of getting them to use the bond they have called in. The money is there but the council is not claiming it. This is a totally unsatisfactory state of affairs,” Mr Lyster said.

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Specialist insurance company
A contract/performance bond is taken out by a developer or contractor at the request of the council as a condition of the grant of planning permission. It is provided by a specialist insurance company.

In the event of the developer/contractor failing to complete the development to the specification of the planning permission, the council can call in the bond and draw down the amount of insurance money specified in the bond, to complete the works.
Mr Lyster stressed that they have no issues with the developer of the estate and it is strictly a matter between themselves and the council.

“In February last year, the council confirmed to us that they received €10,000 from the Ulster Bank for two bonds which were lodged against our estate,” he explained.
“However, the council has used every excuse possible not to cash these bonds and finish the estate. We have had to bring them kicking and screaming in order just to get them to chase after the bonds,” he said.

Ms Lanz said that the bonds for the estate will expire in 2013 as this will be five years after the last planning application for the estate was granted.
She also claims their case in an example of why there is “no way” the council can call in bonds to complete the 91 ghost estates listed on the Department of the Environment’s website.
“There only seems to be one person in the council who is in charge of the calling in of bonds so that estates can be completed. There also seems to be no plan whatsoever as to how to deal with the issue. All we need is a few lights and some tar, so what hope is there for all the other larger unfinished estates. If this matter was not so serious, it would be laughable,” she said.

120 emails
Mr Lyster said the committee has had 120 email correspondences with the council since October 2010. However, he said, the council has stopped responding

to their emails and requests for meetings.

“There has been no progress recently, it is like trying to push an elephant up a hill. At every opportunity, the council has tried to stall or delay the process. But, now that they have ran out of wriggle room, they are just ignoring us.”
A council spokesperson could not be contacted at the time of going to press.

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