Over the last decade, Fingal County Council’s administrative area has seen unprecedented growth and an explosion in population. The 2006 census suggested that our population was in excess of 240,000 with many suggesting that the nature of our census could mean that the figure could easily exceed 250,000. This 20% growth put enormous pressures on the council in terms of the delivery of critical infrastructure, failures of which can be attributed to the chronic lack of funding by national government.
Mulhuddart in Dublin 15 and Balbriggan in North Fingal are the two fastest growing towns in Ireland and despite the recession, the pressures on local government, state agencies and schools remains.
Right across the county and indeed the country, thousands of acres of “development” land lie untouched, growing weeds and in some cases, the hangover of development such as mounds of unsightly earth, disused containers and rubble not to mention partially constructed houses.
While the local authority are responsible for ensuring that errant developers keep their sites secure and tidy, they must pursue developers through the courts if the builder ignores the council’s warnings.
Stuck in the middle, homeowners must face an uncertain future as they look around their communities at these unsightly fields. In certain circumstances, developers are doing their duty and keeping nearby residents reasonably happy but in other cases, such as Malahide, Swords, Donabate and Balbriggan former developments sites are in woeful condition often encouraging anti social and criminal behavior.
While our beleaguered government bail out the developers and bankers, we are left with no funding to pursue these builders and no funding to purchase lands which would be for the greater good.
Many sites will most likely remain untouched for a number of years and I believe that some consideration should be given to allowing allotments, football pitches or similar uses take over from the potential for development. Local authorities should be given funding to take over the responsibilities of developers and ensure that our towns and villages are not blighted with unsightly fields in this uncertain financial future.