By Siobhán Holliman, Tuam Herald
WORK on one of the largest regeneration and social housing projects in Connacht begins in Tuam early in the New Year.
Construction workers will move on to the Gilmartin Road site in January and the €8 million project is expected to be complete within 18 months.
The development will lead to a complete transformation of the area with 40 new houses being built and a further 21 being refurbished. Local public representatives are aware that there have been mixed reactions to the project from the public given that the area underwent significant redevelopment within the past 20 years at considerable expense and this will be the fourth major development of the street.
On Monday, Galway County Council signed the contracts for the work with Galway and Glenamaddy company Glenman Corporation. The construction period is expected to generate not only significant work for those in the industry but will also be a boost for related trades and businesses.
Cllr Donagh Killilea has praised the Gilmartin Road Residents’ Association for being the “true driving force and true heroes” behind the massive project. He said a number of people living on the road have persisted in their campaign to clean up an area which has become a persistent eyesore in the town.
“For decades many residents who own their homes have had to put up with a lot.
“This will be a new era for the area.” The street will be completely revamped and revitalised and let’s hope it will be anew beginning for many young families,” said Cllr Kililea. During the planning consultations locals told of their “complete loss of pride in the place where they live” and that there was a deterioration in community ownership.
The project design involves the replacement of some 30 houses with a low-rise scheme of single and two-storey homes set in two distinct layouts. The old houses will be replaced with 40 new houses arranged to create two safe and secure amenity areas.
Over half of the new-builds will be two-bedroom, two-storey houses, there will be 11 three-bed houses, six single-storey two-bed houses and two three-bed single storey.
A large landscaped green space on the north side will be encompassed by 28 houses while a ‘homezone’ style group of 12 will be created on the south side.
The project also includes renovation of 21 existing houses. Among the works being carried out are remedying structural and cosmetic deficiencies, upgrading plumbing and electrical systems as well making windows, doors and insulation more energy efficient.
Galway East TD Sean Canney believes that, once completed, the development will be very positive for the town.
“When complete this development will enhance one of the main access points to the town centre.”
Deputy Canney said that one of the main challenges for the County Council will be to ensure the residences are managed properly. “We can’t have a repeat of what has happened in the past,” said Deputy Canney. He believes the council need to be more proactive on the ground and have staff monitoring estates to prevent problems arising.
Over the past year existing Council tenants have been relocated to alternative accommodation. When the new homes are finished, Cllr Killilea says it’s unlikely that any of the previous residents will return to the same street.
He would also be supportive of existing residents to be given the opportunity of changing the name of the street if that’s what they want.
“It will be a new era and there is the potential for Gilmartin Road to be re-named and if is this what residents would like, it should be up to them,” added the Fianna Fail councillor.
The new design and lay-out of the houses will be a major deterrent to illegal dumping, according to Cllr Killilea, who is also confident that the risk of anti-social behaviour in the area will also be significantly reduced.
“This will become a very attractive location to live in Tuam and is one of the largest social housing projects in the province in 2018.”