Donegal County Council has confirmed that it has acquired two large sites in Letterkenny in a major boost to housing in the area, with a view to building in excess of 300 new homes in the town under the Housing for All Programme. Given the current housing challenges, this is a significant boost and offers hope for many families in the town.
In light of the renewed focus on house construction under Housing for All, the Council outlined in early 2022 that it intended to pursue a strategy of significant land acquisition. A Council spokesperson has confirmed this week that, “we secured approval for additional staff resources in 2022, from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to help focus on land acquisition and this is now starting to bear fruit. To date we have reached agreement to acquire land in a number of locations throughout the County.”
The sites in Letterkenny are located in close proximity to a range of services and amenities. One of the sites is located right in the town centre at High Road (8.23 acres), and the other site is at Ballymacool (13.89 acres), just a short walk from town centre.
The Council has confirmed that, “our Housing Capital team is focused on increasing our landbank capacity for housing across the County. Naturally the process takes time, but we are making good progress, and we are particularly pleased to have secured these two sites in Letterkenny. Both are well located and within walking distance to shops, restaurants, schools and other amenities. The High Road site for example, is right in the town centre and only a few hundred metres from the Main Street, as well as Letterkenny University Hospital and the Bernard McGlinchey Town Park. The Ballymacool site is located close to amenities such as the Ballymacool Town Park, the Aura Leisure Centre and St. Eunans GAA, and is only a short walk from the town centre.”
It is estimated that the two Letterkenny sites alone will result in a direct housing capital investment of over €75m in the local economy. The news is a significant boost to the County, not only from the perspective of the provision of much needed new homes, but the anticipated associated benefits such as building up the confidence in the local construction sector, additional employment, and the potential to attract local construction workers back to the County.
As regards the next steps, the Council has indicated that, “the process of turning land into homes will obviously take some time, having regard to the required consultation, planning and procurement processes. However, the acquisition of these well located sites is a major step forward. Given the scale of the proposed developments, it is our intention to set up a specific project team as soon as possible to focus on same.”
In relation to the nature of the developments, the spokesperson indicated that, “consultation locally with elected members, the community and other groups will be important in framing the developments going forward, so we will not pre-empt that process. However, I can confirm that based on various engagements with elected members and other groups we do see a need, and an opportunity, to incorporate sheltered accommodation for older people as well as suitable accommodation for other specific needs. The size of both sites gives us options for an appropriate mix of family homes as well as homes for single people who comprise a large percentage of the housing list in the town.”
Source: Donegal County Council