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Thread: Ghost estates of Ireland

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Ghost estates of Ireland

    A friend in Ireland just sent me a link for a site called Ghost Estates. The housing bubble in Ireland, which reached heights that surpassed even San Francisco, is bursting, and entire built-out subdivisions now sit empty.

    In the Cleveland area, I've seen a lot of stalled subdivisions -- developments where there's many vacant lots, and only a few occupied homes -- but nothing filled almost entirely by empty spec houses.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Related USA articles -

    HEADLINE: After the Bubble, Ghost Towns Across America
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1217...hpp_us_pageone

    Half-Built Subdivisions
    Are Lonesome Places;
    'There's Just No Noise'


    HEADLINE: In the Central Valley, the Ruins of the Housing Bust
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/24/bu...se&oref=slogin

    Interesting Slideshow.
    Last edited by JNA; 07 Sep 2008 at 2:56 PM.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
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    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Interesting sites, articles, and videos. I really enjoyed learning about just how bad real estate has gotten in USA and in Ireland. I had no ideas.

    I don't think Canada has anything that looks like or sounds like neighbourhoods mentioned in these sites unless you go back to the 1970s suburbs that never developed. It's called Townsend somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area or perhaps in the Hamilton area. I'd like to visit it someday.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hceux View post
    I don't think Canada has anything that looks like or sounds like neighbourhoods mentioned in these sites unless you go back to the 1970s suburbs that never developed. It's called Townsend somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area or perhaps in the Hamilton area. I'd like to visit it someday.

    Try Windsor, ON
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Try Windsor, ON
    I've read articles in the Toronto Star about how poorly Windsor has been doing economically, but I didn't realize that Windsor has reached the point like communities mentioned in this thread. Wow!

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I had to find out more about Townsend, and a bit of Googling around revealed this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Townsend,_Ontario

    Townsend is a planned community in Haldimand County, Ontario, Canada that was founded in 1970. While there used to be some commercial activity (variety store, hairdressing salon, and other numerous small businesses), the community now consists of almost purely residential and government-use property. The governmental services in the area mainly cover children's issues and mental health issues.

    It was supposed to have a population of 100,000 people by the year 2000 but they couldn't find enough people to work at the nearby Stelco steel plant and so the community has stagnated over the years. There is a school in the region called Townsend Central Public School which in addition to its own students, houses the sixth grade graduates of Bloomsburg Public School. However, they do not have a special education program.
    Found some history about the proposed development:
    http://tinyurl.com/6o2tpb

    Here's the site today:
    http://wikimapia.org/2202705/Townsend

    Townsend Retraced: (they have a link to Cyburbia!)
    http://www.townsendretraced.ca

    The Townsend area near the shore of Lake Erie was targeted in the mid-1970s to be the site of a "New Town" development in response to the intense industrial development in nearby Nanticoke. A new urban population of over 100,000 people was expected to move to this primarily rural area by 2001. The Ontario Provincial Government spent an estimated $23.6 million in order to build the city of Townsend on agricultural land. Phase 1 was completed, including a municipal building, three clusters of housing, four sewage lagoons and a water tower.

    By the mid-1980s, it became clear that the urban population would not materialize. The government began to sell off the "surplus" land that had been rented in the interim to the farmers who had originally been pressured to sell to the government, or to farmers who rented the land to grow cash crops. Without direct ownership and without any guarantee from one year to the next that those renting the land would be able to continue farming, the land and buildings had deteriorated. The local church was closed and torn down. The original farming community had dispersed. In many cases, people could not purchase back their family farms.

    Almost thirty years later, Townsend is a bedroom community of about 1,500 residents without retail or corner stores, post office or restaurants. It played host to a series of political experiments in the amalgamation of Haldimand and Norfolk counties into Haldimand-Norfolk. In 2001, the counties split into two again, with the resulting county line running down the middle of the current community. Still, the village of Townsend has developed a strong spirit, perhaps built on defending its existence in the area. Shared almost equally between new families with young children and older retirees seeking peace and quiet, Townsend boasts a first-class daycare facility, a multi-phase retirement home, and a provincially recognized community policing organization. It is also home to a modern church built to house community events from basketball to baptisms.

    Ironically, Townsend as a car-friendly subdivision built in the middle of farmland with services located elsewhere is the current trend in development along the 401 corridor. Originally however, it was planned to be a green city with integrated pedestrian paths through urban parks, innovative transit, mixed use downtown zoning, many of the features that planners strive to achieve in revitalizing urban areas today. From the renderings in the planning documents, svelte bell-bottomed moms push baby strollers through the riverside park. The airflow from the Nanticoke industrial complex is held back at the city limits by an orange band marked "limit of pollution". Farms are retained at the edge of the city to create a green belt, or converted to golf courses. The realities of urban factory shift worker life do not appear in the pages of the plan. On paper, Townsend looks like a California suburb.

    It would be fascinating to see the original plans.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    There is a place in Cape Breton Nova Scotia which was partially built at the turn of the last century by the Dominion Coal Company. I'm not sure how much remains today but the major hotel burned in 1916. Broughton was in part designed by William Critchlow Harris a fairly well-known architect in the maritimes. There is scattered information about both on the web. Not exactly the same as the above but certainly as interesting piece of planning history in a relatively unplanned area.

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    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    *shrug* Dozens and dozens of resource ghost towns rotting away in the wilds of BC, but none because of a housing market crash.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hceux View post
    I've read articles in the Toronto Star about how poorly Windsor has been doing economically, but I didn't realize that Windsor has reached the point like communities mentioned in this thread. Wow!
    You have to remember, Windsor is essentially Detroit. The whole are has been rocked by poor auto sales. Lots of half completed subdivisions abound because the population has quickly shifted from slowly growing to rapidly shrinking.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    It makes me want to sob eveytime i see those estates in Ireland, some of them are truley awful, they did in the 90's and 0's what the uk was doing in the 80 and 90's, sprawling identik houses on greenfield land. Of course, many of the builders in the UK were irish companies, so i suppose they knew how to.

    Its been tightened up now but my mates' uncle just used to buy a field in the middle of nowhere and shove 2 or 3 really nasty bungalows on it, he'd sell them no problem. Told him if he tried that on my patch in england i'd tell him where to shove it :P

  11. #11
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by b3nr View post
    It makes me want to sob eveytime i see those estates in Ireland, some of them are truley awful, they did in the 90's and 0's what the uk was doing in the 80 and 90's, sprawling identik houses on greenfield land. Of course, many of the builders in the UK were irish companies, so i suppose they knew how to.
    They are quite awful, aren't they? Even in the US, where a common complaint about new suburban development is "All the houses look the same", builders at least include several different models, varying the colors and facade materials, using mirrored plans, and so on to provide some variety.

    The housing pictured in Ireland, to my eyes, looks "sort of British, but not". It's kind of like how the style of houses being built in suburban Cleveland are much different than those being built in suburban Denver, but both styles are unmistakably American.



    Also, where are the garages?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  12. #12
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    They are quite awful, aren't they? Even in the US, where a common complaint about new suburban development is "All the houses look the same", builders at least include several different models, varying the colors and facade materials, using mirrored plans, and so on to provide some variety.

    The housing pictured in Ireland, to my eyes, looks "sort of British, but not"
    Yes well the vernaculars of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are pretty hard to tell apart with the naked eye! But there are differences if you know where to look.

    Modern build, in common, lots of unrendered brick (something we have in common with N America), windows as wide as they are high, (European windows are often rectangular rather than square), steep roof pitches (it rain like 200 days a year in most places), chimney stacks, terraces, semis and small detached.

    Differences, erm... its hard to describe... the styles are very slightly different even between Wales and England and northern and southern England... one day i will write a book on it :P

    But the recent stuff in Ireland is a wonder to behold, it really is on quite another level of awfulness, that's not to say that the UK doesn't have its fair share of awfulness, but most of this was done in the 70's and 80's not in the last 10 - 15 years.

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