Sinn Féin councillor, Tony Hassan, has warned that the development of large amenity-starved housing estates like Galliagh must never be permitted on Derry City and Strabane District Council’s watch.
He made the comments during his valedictory speech in the Guildhall on Thursday.
The outgoing Sinn Féin councillor who has represented the Shantallow area for over two decades said the devolution of planning powers to the new DC&SDC in 2015 meant it was now incumbent on local councillors to insist developers put in proper community infrastructure when constructing new housing schemes in the city.
Colr. Hassan said: “I’d like to remind the planning committee and members that are on it that, in future, we should not be building Galliaghs anymore .
“If you look at Skeoge, while I would be a campaigner for Skeoge, from the road right down to the first development of housing, we see housing, housing...and we don’t see any sort of community or recreational infrastructure and we have to keep our eye on the ball.”
The Sinn Féin veteran urged vigilance around the Council’s stewardship of the HI and H2 housing zones on the city’s north western fringes where house-building on a massive scale is proposed in the years ahead.
“I’m talking about the right-hand side going down. On the left-hand side there are planning applications in and there’s not much we can do about that but I think we have to look at what community infrastructure, what youth facilities and what recreational facilities are there. We have the time to look at this as applications come into planning.
“We should make sure that we do not build Galliaghs anymore in this city and that would carry on to the H2 as well: that we build the community infrastructure because in Galligah we are fighting for a communtiy centre in Galliagh. How long is Galliagh up? Over 45 years. It’s ridiculous.”
Colr. Hassan said he looked forward to the further devolution of even greater planning responsibilities to Council in future.
“I think we would need more power within planning and that’s probably going to happen as the years go on but, basically, what I would say is that when I joined Council in 1997, there was something like 800 people on the waiting list for social homes, now there’s almost 3,500 people and we’re having more houses built in Derry than we’ve ever had built before but there’s still not enough.”
The Mayor, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, congratulated Colr. Hassan upon his retirement, stating: “You’ve been a shining example in every respect and it’s for that very same reason that year-on-year you were continuosly returned by the people of your area because you are of the people and you represent the people.”
Party colleague Colr. Paul Fleming, leading tributes, remarked that Colr. Hassan had been a republican activist for 45 years and had served Shantallow as a councillor for 21 years during which time he had been to “the fore in all of those years building and developing Sinn Féin”.