20 years in the making: Over a thousand houses to be built in Galway's new 'urban village'

Thousands of people could live in the Ardaun area near the city centre.

By Paul O'Donoghue Reporter, Fora

OVER A THOUSAND homes could be built in a new suburb for Galway that would accommodate thousands of people.

The plan, to create a new area called Ardaun, is nearly two decades in the making. While it has stalled for years, the proposal looks to have regained some life after Galway City Council published a draft plan outlining their vision for the district.

The recently published local area plan outlined a vision for an ‘urban village’ in Galway. It said that phase one of the project could see 1,100 housing units being built that would support a population of 3,000 people.

It said that the council has nominated Ardaun as a ‘strategic development area’.

Ardaun is currently a bank of greenfield lands of about 400 hectares. It is well-located on the N6 road, and is around 5 km from the city centre.

Council officials have indicated that they would like houses built in the area to take advantage of new fast-track planning rules that let some development proposals go straight to An Bord Pleanála.

The council does not own much of the land encompassed in the local area plan. It would likely be largely reliant on private developers to build houses in the district in line with the area plan and the council’s vision.

ardaun map The proposed Ardaun site (outlined in red)
Source: Galway City Council

The council compared Ardaun to Salthill in Dublin in its vision for an ‘urban village’.

“(An urban village) supports a compact, walkable, mixed use neighbourhood of a sustainable scale,” it said.

“It supports the idea of neighbourhoods where there is a reduced reliance on cars. This vision anticipates the creation of a high level of self-containment where opportunities for working, living and recreating can co-exist within reasonable distances.”

The plans are currently on display, and the council is accepting submissions from the public until 20 October.

Once it has had time to consider the submissions, it is hoped that councillors will vote to adopt the plan and it will then come into effect.

A spokesman for the city council said it is expected that the plan “will be adopted next year, and thereafter development will likely commence”.

Delays

The plans are a long time in the making. There have been serious proposals to develop the Ardaun area stretching as far back as 1999. However to date little work has happened, with the recession stymying any possible development.

The need to build the new suburb has become more urgent as Galway, like other cities across the Republic, is facing a serious housing shortage.

As well as leading to higher house prices, it has also led to rising rents. Average rents in the city have jumped by double-digits figures for the last three years.

It is hoped that Ardaun could help tackle this shortage. However, the plan has come in for criticism in the past, with some such as the late architect Roddy Mannion claiming that it would lead to Galway’s suburbs continuing to sprawl out from the city.

“Galway is, relatively speaking, quite contained,” a spokesman for the city council said. “If you want sprawl look at Houston.

“There are areas (in Galway) that have been developed where the social infrastructure wasn’t as good as it should’ve been, but some of those deficiencies have now been addressed.

“What we’re talking about with Ardaun is planning it in such a way that that type of infrastructure is developed as well in a timely and sustainable way.”

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