‘Galliagh got nothing but schools & services must serve new suburbs’

Councillor Caoimhe McKnight at one of the new developments on the Skeoge Road.
Councillor Caoimhe McKnight at one of the new developments on the Skeoge Road.

Ballyarnett Sinn Féin councillor Caoimhe McKnight has insisted sufficient shops, schools and community centres must be built into Derry’s newest suburbs on the city’s northern fringes.

She made the call while welcoming Apex Housing’s pledge to build another 260 social homes on the Skeoge lands.

Colr. McKnight and her party have been wholly supportive of proposals to build thousands of homes on the H1 and H2 housing zones at Skeoge and along the Buncrana Road as far as Coshquin.

She said this was vital in order to meet Derry’s acute housing needs.

“Apex Housing has plans to build another 260 social homes at Skeoge which will hopefully be approved by the Derry City and Strabane planning committee,” she said.

“These homes are badly needed for the number of people on the waiting list in the city.

“This is a good news story for social housing provision in Derry and for the hundreds of people on the homeless waiting list,” she added.

However, Colr. McKnight echoed the remarks her party colleague Tony Hassan made when he stood down from the local council in February, namely, that, ‘we should not be building Galliaghs anymore’.

The new expanding estates to the North and West of the city that will ultimately become a new district should be served with the shops, community centres and schools it needs from the very beginning, she said.

Outline planning approval issued for 1,500 new dwellings on the H1 lands nearly two years ago included lands for a school, neighbourhood facilities, local shops and services, good roads, a public transport route, and public open space areas with fully equipped play areas.

Colr. McKnight said: “Sinn Féin has held meetings recently with the Education Authority, Council, Community groups and other stakeholders as part of a wider and long term engagement around zoned education land at Skeoge. We are asking that community, youth and sporting facilities be developed at Skeoge to accommodate the growing community and their needs.

“We have strongly stated to the statutory agencies and housing associations that we don’t want to see the mistakes of the past in areas like Galliagh which was left with very little infrastructure, leaving the community years to catch up. The number of people waiting for a home in the city has increased dramatically over the past few years and these houses will go some way to alleviating that problem.”