Plans to build a student accommodation building, which would also be used for tourist accommodation during the summer, has been criticised as start of a move towards the controversial 'co-living' model of accommodation in Galway.
This is the view of Social Democrats councillor Owen Hanley, who alleged that the proposed development would result in "up to 50 single unit bedrooms on one floor, with up to 15 people sharing a kitchen".
An application has been made to the Galway City Council for planning permission for a development at Munster Avenue. The proposed development seeks to build a 2,876 Sqm, three/four storey, student accommodation building, that will also be used as a hostel/tourist accommodation on a temporary basis outside the academic term times. The proposed building will have a caretaker apartment; 73 single bedrooms; common rooms; laundry; plant/store rooms; reception; stairs/lifts and circulation area; and all necessary site services and development.
Cllr Hanley said the housing crisis in Galway would not be solved by co-living developments, and that providing accommodation should not involve either the "demolition of five existing in-use houses" or the "sacrifice of our housing quality".
Niall Ó Tuathail, the Social Democrats Galway West candidate also warned if co-living is introduced in Galway, "it won't just affect students". He alleges that the proposed Munster Avenue development "could be the beginning of a dangerous undermining" of housing in Galway. He said co-living could "represent an easy way for some developers to make a quick profit" through building smaller accommodation units with fewer facilities, as opposed to houses or apartments with kitchens, etc.
Mr Ó Tuathail has called for the creation of a large-scale housing construction fund to increase the amount of social and affordable housing being built by the State, as well as the State, local government, and universities working closer together to produce on campus accommodation. "There seems to be no urgency from the Government to properly tackle the systemic causes behind the housing crisis," he said. "Students, pensioners, and young families are all struggling to afford basic access to housing."