People Before Profit have said the former Corrib Great Southern Hotel site should be subject to a compulsory purchase order and used to provide student accommodation.
Adrian Curran, People Before Profit representative for Galway said:
“Right now, the student housing crisis in Galway is probably the worst it has ever been. Between GMIT and NUIG, there are over 5,000 students on waiting lists for accommodation. Some students are being forced to defer or drop out from their courses. Others are stuck sleeping in hostels or on couches. The “lucky” ones are paying unaffordable rents for often substandard rooms.
“The former Corrib Great Southern has long been a bone of contention for Galway people. The site has been left to fall into dereliction for over a decade by its billionaire owners, the Comer Group. The recent news that the Comers are finally commencing demolition of the building has been met with great enthusiasm from TDs and councillors, however there is still no prospect of anything useful being done with the site in the foreseeable future. It has taken many years and a lot of public pressure for the owners to even begin demolition. With no plans in place, it seems highly unlikely the site will be brought into use that is beneficial for the community any time soon. The owners are evidently content to speculate on the value of the site.
“In light of this and the dire housing situation Galway is facing, there should be a compulsory purchase order issued for the site in order for it to be brought into use as publicly-owned, affordable student accommodation as quickly as possible. Its proximity to GMIT and the extreme difficulty students are having this year finding accommodation in Galway make this the obvious best use of the site.
“Central government should make funding available to Galway City Council to CPO the site and begin planning and constructing good quality student accommodation without delay. This would help to alleviate the student accommodation scarcity in future years. It would also reduce pressure on the private rental market in Galway, benefitting the wider population.
“The funding for projects such as this would be there if there was real political will to solve the housing crisis. The state subsidises private landlords to the tune of half a billion Euro per year through the HAP scheme. By contrast, investing in public housing, including student accommodation, would see a return over time in terms of rents paid, as well as the obvious societal benefits.”