With some 5,000 households - an estimated total of 15,000 people - on the housing waiting list in Galway, an 11 acre site at Sandy Road should be used to provide residential development and council housing.
Galway city councillors are due to discuss a motion calling for a plan to be drawn up for the 11 acre site. The site is owned by City Hall. If the motion is approved it will see construction of a mixed-use development of retail, commercial, and residential units. However People Before Profit Galway is calling on councillors to seek to have public housing built on the site.
"We call on councillors to prioritise social housing when deciding on the use of the public land bank at Sandy Road," said a PBP spokesperson. "Plans should be put in place directly for residential development and council housing units constructed. With 11 acres a properly planned community could be developed with facilities. The location is ideal for local authority houses as it also has access to public transport, schools, and services in the area."
PBP pointed out that the Government has said funding is available for housing developments where local authorities can provide sites. Also, no public housing has been built in Galway city since 2009. However City Hall is taking a number of initiatives to rectify this, including the provision of c60 houses by direct build, c70 through turnkey developments, and a small number of other houses through public/private arrangement. Despite this, the total number of houses to be provided will be fewer than 250, and of those, only 14 will come on stream in 2018/2019, with no start or completion date for the remainder.
Independent Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated recently that while these developments were "very welcome" they came "nowhere near meeting the current demand for public housing". She also pointed out that, according to current figures, 30 families in Galway are in homeless accommodation, while single people are being turned away from emergency hostel accommodation on a nightly basis, with the offer of a sleeping bag. However Dep Connolly pointed out that the homeless figures do not include people in domestic violence refuges and/or people living with other family members or friends in overcrowded accommodation of necessity.
In this light, PBP is calling on councillors to take the opportunity to use this land to provide for housing, which would go some way towards providing accommodation for Galway families. "Thousands of families and individuals on Galway city’s local authority waiting list need secure, permanent, social housing," the spokesperson said. "The Sandy Road site must be used to address, in some part, the housing emergency in our midst."