Lack of support for housing project is 'astonishing' says councillor

The lack of support for a proposed development of 58 residential units at Ballybaan More, on the east side of the city, has been described as "astonishing".

Fine Gael councillor John Walsh's comments come after the Galway City Council voted to defer a decision to grant a Part 8 application for the social housing project at a special meeting in City Hall last Tuesday.

The decision came after some councillors voiced residents' concerns over the social housing nature of the development and said residents wanted a 75/25 per cent mix of affordable and social housing in an attempt to limit anti-social behavioural issues.

However Cllr Walsh said the slowness in decision making on housing was also increasing the waiting list.

Cllr Walsh said; “It is astonishing that councillors failed to back the scheme, particularly as in recent weeks, a number of them have been highly critical of the lack of progress in the provision of housing in the city.

"I was the only East Ward councillor to indicate support for the scheme. I realise there is local opposition to the project, however, at times we have to do what is right and not what is popular. For far too long we have been making decisions in this country with an eye to the next election. My support for the project will likely cost me votes but so be it.

“It is unbelievable that we are dithering on this. We have 4,000 families on a waiting list and a growing number of families with children presenting as homeless. In the last 10 years the only large scale scheme the council has built has been one in Knocknacarra, we need to seize this opportunity and approve this plan as a matter of urgency.

"I proposed a motion which remains on the agenda for our next meeting that we proceed with granting the planning permission and deciding at a later date the mix between affordable and social units. Between procurement and construction, it will be two years before the houses are offered which gives us plenty of time to decide on how these much needed units are to be allocated."

The development which received Stage 1 approval from the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government in January 2018, is estimated to cost €11.9 million, which will be covered by the social housing investing programme (SHIP ) from the Department and is expected to be completed in April 2021.

According to the Galway City Council figures, there are currently 4,169 households on the housing waiting list, 2,658 of which had expressed a preference for housing on the east side of the city.

The decision comes after some councillors voiced residents' concerns over the social housing nature of the development and said residents wanted a 75/25 per cent mix of affordable and social housing in an attempt to limit anti-social behavioural issues.

The vote to defer passed by nine votes to eight with one absent.

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