LDA launches plan to transform land at Galway’s Sandy Road

The Land Development Agency (LDA) has launched ambitious plans to transform land surrounding Galway’s Sandy Road into a new urban quarter involving up to 750 mixed tenure homes and including social and affordable units.

The agency, which specialises in unlocking underutilised public land and the delivery of affordable housing, has produced a draft spatial framework for what is now known as The Sandy Quarter.

The Draft Spatial Framework for The Sandy Quarter is being launched as part of a six-week public consultation process. The plan details a comprehensive vision for the optimal development of this strategically significant area of Galway city, proposing mixed tenure homes, situated around a central park and a series of smaller garden courts, pocket parks and a public square. It also envisages high quality office and commercial space, alongside biodiverse landscaping and much-needed places to live, socialise and work close to Galway city centre.

The Sandy Quarter site surrounds Sandy Road and is located approximately 1.2km from Eyre Square in the northeast of the city. It is within fifteen minutes’ walking distance of major city destinations such as Ceannt Station, the University of Galway and Terryland Park. As such, the framework offers the potential to truly transform an underutilised brownfield area into a vibrant, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly urban quarter. It also details how plans for the c.10 hectares site, could create a new sustainable neighbourhood, connecting with and enhancing existing residential and business communities and acting as a catalyst for the redevelopment of adjacent underutilised or brownfield sites.

A key aim is to provide high quality affordable homes based on the principles of sustainability, with active mobility and access to quality open space. A mix of housing types is envisaged while the quarter will involve social connectivity and health-orientated design through the provision of green infrastructure and sustainably built homes.

The design approach involves distinct character areas that are linked throughout the site. They include The Garden District, where the pocket parks will be located, The Boardwalk, a commercial community with office space and retail units, and The Hub, a community and enterprise facility.

The spatial framework proposes a vision for the area that builds on the policies in the recently adopted Galway City Development Plan 2023-2029. It also complements many other significant initiatives that are underway in Galway City. It was developed by the LDA with partners Galway City Council and key stakeholders Galway County Council, and the ESB, as well as adjoining private landowners whose land also forms part of the framework area. Both councils and the ESB will be required to relocate prior to development commencing.

The consultation process begins today, Monday, April 3rd, and will run for 6 weeks until May 12 and includes consultation on supporting SEA documents.  The LDA is keen to hear from interested parties and stakeholders and a full website and communication suite is in place.

Feedback from the public consultation will be used by the LDA to identify how the site can develop, and where a first development phase could happen before a final version of the framework is published later this year. The next step will consider the strategy for obtaining planning consent which will be required to progress any development. Further public consultation will take place before planning consent is sought. Full details are available at www.thesandyquarter.ie

The draft spatial framework was produced following a design review process run by the Royal Institute of Architects Ireland to provide high-level visions of the land’s potential and capacity. C. 10

 John Coleman, chief executive of the LDA said: “This is another significant development for the LDA and part of our ongoing work to optimise the potential of underutilised public land. The Draft Spatial Framework involves an exciting vision for this land and serves as a guide to how it can be radically transformed from a brownfield site into a vibrant urban quarter. The LDA is already involved in a number of affordable and social housing projects with local authorities and is delighted to be working with Galway City Council, Galway County Council and the ESB on what will be a fantastic addition to Galway city. We have the expertise to plan and deliver this project and we look forward to doing so.”

Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council said: “Galway City Council is very pleased to be working in partnership with the Land Development Agency to progress this strategic spatial framework for the Sandy Road area. This site is very important in the context of compact growth, active travel, climate action, and the anticipated increase in population in Galway City under the National Planning Framework. Sustainable, compact growth will be key to the continued success of Galway city, and ambitious plans such as the draft spatial framework for the Sandy Road area will be at the heart of this.

We look forward to a proactive consultation and engagement with stakeholders, and we welcome their input, local knowledge and insights. Progression towards planning consent, incorporating highest quality urban design and subsequent early construction of this new urban quarter in the coming years, will be hugely welcome. Delivering this new city neighbourhood will especially focus on building new affordable and social homes with highly sustainable liveability, work and leisure space and local retail at the core, along with vibrant new public realm and new amenity space.

This proposed redevelopment will be transformative for this brownfield area of Galway – a veritable stone’s throw from the city centre. The Sandy Quarter will also be a major catalyst for the future regeneration of adjoining areas”.