How to complete ghost estates + Priory Hall?:BC(A)R SI.9

by Bregs Blog admin team

priory-hall

In a previous post “Ghost estates and public housing; Deferral no 2? BC(A)R SI.9” we explored problems now faced in completing so-called ghost-estates under Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014). In an article from November 2012 the extent of the problem of unfinished residential developments was outlined: “…there are 1,770 developments which are incomplete and approximately 1,100 developments are said to be in a “seriously problematic condition”. (Link here to Journal.ie article: Ghost estates ireland)

There are four main issues for incomplete projects under BC(A)R SI.9, in particular for Local Authorities:

1. Inadequate provision for exclusions for part-completed works by others (structural work , drainage infrastructure etc) may make professionals reluctant to undertake certifier duties which may effectively mean they will be assuming responsibility and providing a guarantee for previous work which they may have had no professional involvement with.

2. Employee liability issues suggests many local authorities may be unwilling to undertake certifier roles in-house for completion of ghost estates or incomplete projects, instead electing to appoint professionals as external consultants. (link to post here “Extreme caution for employees; bcar si.9“).

3. No retrospective compliance: There is no provision for retrospective compliance under the new regulation. Local authorities are exempt from SI.9. However they will not be able to avail of this exemption from BC(A)R SI.9 if they intend to sell-on properties at some future stage. Projects that are intended to be ultimately sold on, like Priory Hall, may qualify for and need to be completed out under SI.9.

4. Perception: We would assume the media would have a field day if projects like Priory Hall were not completed under the new regulations in full. BC(A)R SI.9, we have been repeatedly told, is a regulation specifically targeted at defective “build for sale” developments. If developments like Priory Hall or the 1,700 unfinished houses in ghost estates around the country were completed under a part-deferral this would suggest that SI.9 is simply unworkable.

These unintended consequences of BC(A)R SI.9 may make completion of ghost estates and indeed developments like Priory Hall very complex and difficult. Minister Jan O’Sullivan was quoted: “My Department will be working with stakeholders to develop a response in relation to this issue over the coming months with a view to having a plan in place by the end of Spring 2013

Will unfinished or defective projects like Priory Hall fully embrace Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014) or will some form of part-deferral be sought, like the recent SI.105 deferral introduced for hospitals and schools? We will follow the progress of Priory Hall with interest in the weeks ahead to see if the Local Authority tasked with remedial works apply BC(A)R S1.9 in full, or will they seek an exemption. We wonder if any local authority employees are prepared to accept the onerous legal implications of the regulation as noted in the Code of Practice and act as certifiers, or will they tender the professional services to external consultants on this one?

We wonder how this project and others pertaining to ghost/ part-completed buildings and estates have been affected by BC(A)R SI.9. Have the consequences of the new regulation been fully assessed? Has Minister O’Sullivan been fully briefed on these issues and has her plan for “ghost-estates” changed? Are Local Authorities fully aware of the complexities and difficulties faced under Building Control (Amendment) Regulation (SI.9 of 2014)? If not at the moment, we suggest they soon will.

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