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Locals discuss seeking judicial review of planning grant for Galway housing estate



Residents in Rosshill are to to consider a High Court judicial review after An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the development of 102 homes on the former Par 3 golf course there.

Planners gave the green light to Alber Developments to proceed with phase one of what was previously a 342-unit development that was turned down by the Board after it was branded a ‘substandard’ form of development on the site.

With 33 planning conditions attached, the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) application submitted for Rosshill Manor in July was successful despite Galway City Council’s opposition.

SHD legislation is used to fast-track proposals for more than 100 residential units by submitting applications directly to An Bord Pleanála after consultations with local authority planners.

Phase one of the development includes for 11 one-bed apartments; 24 two-bed apartments; 11 four-bed houses; and 56 three bed-houses.

Also included is a childcare facility and car parking (14 spaces), along with retail and commercial space.

Each housing unit is to be provided with two car parking spaces, amounting to 130 in total, with a further 134 bicycle parking spaces.

For each apartment, there would be one car parking space, with one visitor car space for every four apartments, giving a total of 43 spaces. One bicycle space per apartment bedroom, with a visitor space for every two apartments amounts to 77 in total.

The planning application commits to access and junction improvements at Rosshill Road and Rosshill Stud Farm Road, with the provision of a footpath connectivity link along both routes.

In a submission to An Bord Pleanála, Chief Executive of Galway City Council Brendan McGrath recommended a refusal of permission, stating that it would “constitute overdevelopment” of the site and “would be significantly out of character with the established pattern of development in the area”.

Mr McGrath said the development would be “premature” due to the “existing deficiency of pedestrian, cycling and public transport infrastructure on the road network serving the area” and would result in “traffic congestion in the area”.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) also objected to the proposal and said a grant of permission would set a precedent that “would adversely affect the operation and safety of the national road network”.

Conditions attached to the grant of permission include a stipulation that the developer must, prior to commencing works, enter an agreement with Galway City Council over requirements for social and affordable housing as part of the scheme – with up to 20% required under the amended Planning and Development Act.

There is also a stipulation that ‘cuckoo funds’ – corporate investors that buy up property for letting – will be restricted and all houses must be occupied by individual purchasers.

The conditions demand that the development should be carried out on a phased basis and that “no dwelling shall be occupied” until the Rosshill Road junction is realigned and a footpath link completed.

No more than 50% of dwellings can be occupied prior to the completion of the childcare facility “unless the developer can demonstrate to the written satisfaction” of the City Council that a childcare facility is not needed.

The board has instructed that roof garden that was included in the application must be moved to an area mooted for carparking spaces, resulting in the loss of 14 spaces – and that 10% of all communal car parking spaces must be provided with electric vehicle charging points.

No additional development is permitted to take place above roof parapet level, including lift motors, air conditioning systems, storage tanks or telecommunication equipment.

A spokesperson for the Rosshill Residents’ Association confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that locals were considering their options.

“We are going to have a meeting on Sunday evening to look at it. Our only option now is judicial review, which is an expensive option, but we are going to discuss it,” said the spokesperson.

The belief locally was that this development was simply a way of getting the previously rejected proposal for 342 units “in through the back door”.


Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge



The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.

Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.

A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.

The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.

The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.

One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.

Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.

The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.

(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).

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Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City



From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.

Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).

Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.

He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.

The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.

At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.

And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”

Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.

Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.

He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.

The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.

“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.

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