Thursday 23 May 2019

Council needs to build more homes

Private landowners slated for sitting on tracts of land

Sorcha Crowley

The Council is planning to build less than 400 social houses throughout county Sligo over the next five years.

The update was given to members at the October Council meeting in response to a motion from Fine Gael Councillor Hubert Keaney.

He was told that among the bigger social housing projects are 22 units at Fr Flanagan Terrace, 28 units at Knappagh Road, 80 units in a Public Private Partnership at Rathellen, 62 units in Maugheraboy, and 42 units at Carrowbunnaun.

Carney is set to have 25 social housing units built there over the next five years, while 20 units will be built at Doorly Park and 15 units each in Collooney and The Mall.

"I don't think there's going to be a private house delivered in Sligo town either, there's no planning applications in," Cllr Keaney told the meeting.

He said the escalation in rent rates was "forcing people into problems in finding a roof over their heads."

"It's the first time that working people are having this problem," he said.

"There's a dysfunction in how we're approaching property here. There is no real urgency in the delivery of these projects from State Agencies.

"We are pandering to private interests. Private landlords are allowed to raise their rents by 10-20 per cent and everybody just shrugs their shoulders and says 'it's the market'," he told members.

He said this was "unsustainable" and people would not be in a position to contribute to other things in their communities.

"The cost of housing is going way beyond the means of a huge number of people. One of the ways we can address this is by the local authorities investing in local and affordable housing," said Cllr Keaney. He said the Council had put "huge money" into the Western Distributor Road and asked "who's going to benefit?"

"I would say the landowners. They have bought this land at very reduced rates over the last few years and are sitting on it - not to build houses but to double or triple their value and they're looking for the land to be re-zoned," he said.

"We need to look at this because it will affect our children in the future," he said.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Seamus Kilgannon agreed that affordable housing was "the way to go."

"Even people who are in good jobs can't buy a house. People are paying more tax now than they were ten years ago. It's frightening. To think a teacher or a Garda can't buy a semi - the politicians have failed," he said.

Independent Cllr Declan Bree noted that 36 per cent of Fine Gael TDs were landlords and 25 per cent of the cabinet were landlords: "There's a conflict of interest there."

Sinn Féin Cllr Chris MacManus agreed with Cllr Keaney that landowners were "sitting on tracts of land" and the Council needed to look at de-zoned such lands.

Sligo Champion