BUILDERS’ bonds totalling nearly £800,000 are to be cashed in to pay for the installation of utilities at Larne’s Lindara development.
East Antrim Assemblyman Roy Beggs Jnr said he was shocked to discover that the local estate has the longest length of unfinished roads and footways in Northern Ireland (2,167 metres) and the highest value of road bonds. The bond is a sum of money which a private developer has to deposit in a financial institution as a form of surety to ensure that the roads, street light and sewers are properly finished. If the developer fails to undertake the work, the Department for Regional Development can draw down the funds to pay for the work, enabling the roads to be formally adopted and maintained in the future.
In October, 2006 the Larne Times reported that Lindara residents were angry that infrastructure had not been finished. Dwellings were still being built at the time, but people who had lived there for as long as two years complained that tarmacing had not been done, bins had to be hauled to the main entrance because lorry drivers would not use an uneven road and cars had been damaged.
This week, Mr Beggs said: “It is quite shocking to learn that 10 bonds to the value of £795,260 are held for Lindara. Why has it taken so long to draw down these funds and carry out the necessary improvements to have the roads and sewers adopted?
“The good news, however, is that the Department are now taking what is known as Article 11 enforcement action, and will be drawing down the bond funds to pay for work to be completed.
“It is estimated that all outstanding work in relation to sewers, roads and footpaths will be carried out and completed over the next year. When complete, these vital pieces of infrastructure will be the responsibility of the DRD Roads Service and NI Water to maintain. It will also mean that council services like bin collection and street cleansing will not be hampered, and the possibility of the introduction of public transport routes opened up.”
Mr Beggs, who is a member of the Assembly regional development committee, said: “I have in the past lobbied the DRD Roads Service to take much earlier enforcement action to force roads bonds to be drawn down and developments to be completed. In the past, the Roads Service has not directed sufficient resources to ensure timely adoption of new roads in new developments.
“At one time, constituents in the Prospect area of Carrickfergus advised me that 16 years after they had moved into new homes their roads and sewers were still not adopted. It took me two years of hard lobbying to achieve adoption of the roads and sewers. Only then was the risk of sewage flooding comprehensively addressed and full responsibility for maintenance of roads and footpaths passed to the Roads Service.
“Clearly this process is taking too long, hence the need for the Review which the regional development committee has embarked on.”
An unadopted road is one where a street planning function has been exercised, a bond has been placed under the Private Streets (NI) Order 1980 and the Department is not satisfied that the street has been sewered, levelled, paved, channelled, made good and lighted.
There are many instances across East Antrim where people have bought and occupied homes in private developments where the roads, footways, drains and sewers are left unfinished. The Private Street Order 1980 is meant to protect home owners from such a situation by placing a duty on developers to consult with Roads Service on the design of the street and ensure it meets their standards.
Mr Beggs added that the committee is keen to hear of the personal experiences of affected residents as part of its enquiry, which will inform a report with recommendations for action.
He added: “There has been a great deal of confusion about who is responsible for bringing footpaths, street lights and sewers quickly up to standard. Therefore I am glad that one of the Stormont committees I sit on is conducting an in depth investigation into the issue.
“I would encourage any local residents who have had problems with unadopted roads and unfinished developments to write in with their experiences, either directly to the committee - Room 435, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3XX (email@example.com) - or to my office at 41 Station Road, Larne BT40 3AA (firstname.lastname@example.org)