Bank should rescue residents stranded in 'ghost estate'

LEAKING sewage, exposed water pipes, untarred roads, mounds of rubble and abandoned houses - it's a far cry from the ideal family homes that were initially advertised to the residents of Gortview, Coalisland.

Now the residents of the Gortgonis Road estate face a harsh winter of frozen water pipes and overflowing sewage, according to Sinn Fein MLA Francie Molloy.

Although planning permission was granted for 80 homes, only ten homes were built. However, none of them were connected to the main sewage network and their water pipes lie exposed to the elements.

Mr Molloy called on the estate's new owners, Ulster Bank, to finish the works and ensure the remaining properties are occupied.

"Now that the Ulster Bank has taken over the estate, its up to them to bear a social responsibility and finish the work that should have been carried out by the developers", he said.

"The residents here face a tough winter with the likelihood of water pipes freezing. The sewage tanks were never connected to the main sewers and have to be emptied regularly."

He added that the bank should be prepared to cut its losses.

"The remaining empty houses need to be either sold at affordable prices or given over to social housing.

"It is vital that they are occupied rather than left to sit empty.

"We can't leave these residents in no-man's land."

"Eighty houses were supposed to be built in this development, but only 10 have been built so far. The rest of the site is derelict.

"The main concern of the people living here is for the site to be finished and properly developed."

Reacting to the concerns of residents, a spokeswoman for Northern Ireland Water said the organisation was willing to meet with them to discuss the problems.