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University of Galway ‘should use its own land’ for student accommodation


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

University of Galway ‘should use its own land’ for student accommodation University of Galway ‘should use its own land’ for student accommodation

University of Galway should be looking to redevelop its own vacant and dilapidated buildings in Nuns’ Island before looking to the private market for accommodation.

That’s according to a local election candidate who said news that the university is to lease 242 student beds in the private market was “another symptom of how broken our housing system is”.

People Before Profit candidate for Galway City Central, Adrian Curran, said the idea of third level institutes leasing private property for students was reminiscent of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme.

“[It is] effectively public money going into private landlord pockets with no long-term benefit to society. This has sadly become necessary because of the refusal of the state to build adequate student accommodation,” said Mr Curran.

As reported in last week’s Galway City Tribune, University of Galway is currently carrying out ‘due diligence’ to lease student accommodation at an as yet unannounced location.

Mr Curran said the university should be seeking to build affordable accommodation in Nuns’ Island – revitalising the area and creating a sustainable income stream for the benefit of students.

“This reliance on the broken private housing sector cannot be the long-term plan. The university owns practically an entire neighbourhood of vacant buildings in Nuns’ Island that should have been developed years ago as student accommodation.

“Bringing the empty buildings they already own back into use as affordable student accommodation could revitalise the Nuns’ Island area, provide much-needed beds for students, free up space in Galway’s private rental sector and provide a long-term income stream from the rents that can be reinvested instead of disappearing into shareholders’ pockets in the private sector,” said Mr Curran.

A masterplan for the redevelopment of Nuns’ Island has been in the making for almost seven years, with the then-NUI Galway going into partnership with Galway City Council to advance the regeneration of the area.

The university owns a significant proportion of the 15-acre area – a prime location in the city centre – and it intends to take ownership of Bish site as part of a land-swap deal to move the school to Dangan. However, planning permission for the new school was refused last August.

Plans previously mooted for a regenerated Nuns’ Island included student accommodation and performance space for artists but, to date, there have been few signs of advancement on these proposals.

€4.3 million in Urban Regeneration and Development Funding (URDF) was secured in March 2021 to advance the initial planning stages but a spokesperson for University of Galway confirmed this week that the process was still at the initial planning phases.

“The URDF application for Nuns’ Island was submitted in conjunction with Galway City Council and we continue to engage with the local authority, both in relation to the drawdown of funding and also to progress planning submissions for the development, which we hope will bring new life to this historic and much-loved part of our city,” they said.

“The allocation of €4.3 million funding by the URDF has come under the university’s governance processes, and we are now in the initial phases of planning and design for a number of projects for academic facilities, consistent with the conditions under the URDF.”

The spokesperson said public consultation on the future of Nuns’ Island had already taken place and would continue “consistent with planning processes and, moreover, the university’s intent to be a good neighbour”.ENDS



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