Criticism levelled at housing proposals in Sandy Road development plans

Galway Daily news Criticism levelled at housing proposals in Sandy Road development plans

Plans for the redevelopment of a 21 acre site on the Sandy Road in Galway City have been criticised for allegedly not giving sufficient weight to the housing crisis in Galway, or including enough social housing.

The Land Development Agency and Galway City Council are in the early planning stages of the redevelopment of the Sandy Road site, which aims to create a new urban quarter for the city.

The LDA commissioned the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland to undertake a Design Review for the site and to provide architectural proposals that could inform future decisions.

This process has produced proposals from five different RIAI registered architects, who have put forward different proposals on how to develop the land.

The different options put forward by the five RIAI architects would deliver between 564 and 1,352 housing units for the site, alongside commercial and amenity space for the new urban quarter.

The Vision Statement for the regeneration project which was given to the five architects said that the plan is to create a “new sustainable neighbourhood” in Galway City.

The statement also said that “A strong residential bias is being sought” for the plans.

People Before Profit have criticised the RIAI proposals for not including enough mention of social housing, noting that only one of the draft proposals includes any mention of social housing.

John McKenna’s ‘Urban Arboretum’ style proposal for the neighbourhood suggested two possibilities delivering either 932 or 1095 housing units, and noted that “10% social housing is also assumed” when discussing different housing models.

PBP Galway spokesperson Cian Mortimer said that the Design Review plans are a “step in the right direction” in terms of sustainable urban development.

But they “need to go further in terms of providing much needed social housing for the city,” he added calling on the city council to recognise this moving forward.

Galway West TD Catherine Connolly has also been highly critical of the proposals and the vision statement for the project from the Land Development Agency for not giving sufficient mention to the housing crisis in Galway.

The Independent TD has said she is “intensely worried” by the role of the Land Development Agency in the redevelopment plans.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, Deputy Connolly said that the call for a “residential bias” in the design proposals was an “afterthought”, not sufficient for when building on “public land, by and large”.

“They are looking at that Sandy Road site in Galway. Before I came down here, I looked again at what has happened.”

“The Land Development Agency used public money to engage five architects to come up with their vision.”

“Does the Minister know what the video presentation of one of those architects said? It called the site a place to live well by accident. We are paying taxpayers’ money for this.”

“There is no mention of a housing crisis or the housing task force that was set up under pressure because of the enormity of the housing problem in Galway.”

“There is no vision and no master plan and the Land Development Agency is pursuing developer-led development.”

The Design Review Draft with the five proposals is available online on the city council website here, and the council is taking public feedback on the proposals until July 31.

The draft Design Review Report, Executive Summary and an accompanying short film are available on the LDA and RIAI websites.

After this feedback, a final Design Review Report will be issued by the RIAI.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council Brendan McGrath has said that “if done well, this regeneration project will afford Galway the opportunity to plan and develop major infrastructure which will benefit the city for generations to come”.