Galway City Council will not meet social housing needs for ‘foreseeable future’, meeting hears – The Irish Times

Galway City Council will not be able to meet its social housing needs for the “foreseeable future”, according to its chief executive.

A number of high-profile housing developments proposed by the local authority have been blocked by An Bord Pleanála in recent weeks.

Chief executive, Brendan McGrath, said on Monday he intends to write to the Department of Housing and the Galway Housing Taskforce this week to outline the scale of the crisis and the projected shortfall in the delivery of new social houses for Galway in 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Planning permission granted for the construction of 71 social housing units on Ballymoneen Road in Galway was overturned by An Bord Pleanála last month, because the site was “without city services” and has “no public bus services and no footpaths”.

A proposed development on the Headford Road in Galway, comprising both social housing and Traveller accommodation, was turned down by An Bord Pleanála before Christmas as it would be overly reliant on cars.

Speaking at Monday night’s meeting of Galway City Council, Mr McGrath said these recent decisions represent a “serious challenge” to the council’s housing strategy.

“I am deeply concerned over the [An Bord Pleanála] refusals. I have drafted and will issue in the next few days a letter to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Galway Housing Taskforce outlining my serious concerns about the ability of Galway City Council to meet its housing needs for 2023, 2024 and 2025 and for the foreseeable future,” said Mr McGrath.

“At a time when our homeless problem is on the increase, our Traveller [housing] problem is on the increase, and there is great pressure on the social housing list generally, these refusals present a serious challenge to our housing strategy.”

Cllr Michael Crowe (FF) described An Bord Pleanála’s decision to overturn the planning permission for the Headford Road development as “one of the most ridiculous” planning decisions of the past 20 years.

“The development on the Headford Road was turned down because of an over-reliance on cars. If you went out there and did a straw-poll of the people, and asked which was more important to them, an overreliance on cars or having a roof over their head, I can tell you what the answer will be,” said Cllr Crowe.

“This is one of the most ridiculous decisions I have seen in my 20 years with Galway City Council.”

Cllr Mike Cubbord (Ind) said the local authority should focus on its own ability to deliver essential facilities for the development of houses, rather than placing the blame on An Bord Pleanála.

“We have failed to deliver proper infrastructure in many areas for generations, which are now being turned down for housing developments. Blaming other people is only a cop out,” he said.

A motion put forward by Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins of Fine Gael, calling for an “urgent meeting” to take place between Galway City Council and the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, and Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Kieran O’Donnell, was passed unanimously at last night’s meeting.

There are close to 4,500 people on the social housing waiting list in Galway City.

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