Cllrs declare housing ‘emergency’

Protestors at the Raise the Roof rally in Eyre Square on Monday calling on the Government to declare a housing and homelessness emergency. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.
Protestors at the Raise the Roof rally in Eyre Square on Monday calling on the Government to declare a housing and homelessness emergency. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Just 54 additional homes came on stream for people on the Galway City Council housing list last year, far below the target set by the Department of Housing under the Rebuilding Ireland Programme and well behind the previous two years.

But the situation is set to dramatically improve within the next three years with 1,075 social housing units earmarked to be built, acquired or leased by the Council and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs).

In an update to city councillors on the Housing Capital Delivery Programme 2019-2021, Acting Director of Services for Housing, Dermot Maho,n said the local authority would have 229 this year, 307 next year and 539 in the final year of the programme, with a total projected cost of €220 million. Between 2016 and 2018, a total of 306 homes were added to the stock – 130, then 122 and 54 – at a cost of €50m. The details of the housing programme were first reported by the Galway City Tribune in February.

“The targets are set by the Department. In 2018 we didn’t come close to target – nor were we going to. A construction programme is now ramping up considerably . . . the target is 1,089 units by 2021 and that’s what we hope to achieve.”

Some 207 would be built by the first quarter of next year – the biggest number of those at Cairéal Mór on the Headford Road where 96 units are under construction by the housing body Respond. A further 52 would accommodate tenants at Radharc na Greine on the Monivea Road.

Work on another 152 would begin by June – 78 at Ard Cre, Ballyburke (Knocknacarra) and 74 on the Ballymoneen Road while councillors would have to vote on whether to progress 187 homes at seven locations before the end of the year – including 16 properties planned for green areas of established estates in Ballinfoile Park, Corrib Park and Castlepark.

In addition to the programme, Council land at Ballyburke that could create 120 homes would be developed under a ‘development licence model’ – 15% would be social housing, 15% affordable housing while 70% would be sold into private hands. Another site at Merlin Park adjacent to Coillte Mhuirlinne with room for 130 homes is also earmarked for a similar scheme after 2021.

“We are conscious of the need for sustainable communities so a mix of social, affordable and private housing is preferable,” said Mr Mahon.

Councillor Mike Cubbard (Ind) said there was no appetite for building on ‘infill’ green area sites and predicted they would not pass when voted on by councillors.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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