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New homes plan sparks safety worries for schoolkids



Three residents’ associations have appealed plans to build six new duplex homes off Taylor’s Hill in Galway on the grounds the development would lead to traffic chaos during school runs.

Residents said the thought of the cars reversing in the development “puts shivers down our spines”.

In May, Galway City Council granted permission for a block of 1 one-bed, two 2-bed and three 3-bed apartments at Taylor’s Hill Court on Rosary Lane.

The application was made Declan Taite and Anne O’Dwyer of Duff & Phelps, who were appointed as receivers over assets of Model Investment Partnership, which is connected through common directorships to the Kenny Group.

The site has an existing apartment development of 14 units and is located on an access road which also leads directly to the Dominican College.

The new homes would remove the existing carparking area and reposition it adjacent to the roadway and to the west of the site.

The receivers’ plan was initially for eight units, but this was reduced following concerns expressed by the Council.

The Council’s grant of permission has now been jointly appealed by Devon Court Residents’ Association, Devon Gardens Residents’ Association and Devon Park Residents’ Association.

“Our primary concerns are in relation to the impact this development will have on the traffic chaos and indiscriminate parking of cars along the network of roads in the immediate vicinity, at peak school opening and closing times, several times per day,” the appeal reads.

The residents referenced a previous An Bord Pleanála decision refusing permission for a similar development on the site, which the board ruled would “endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard and obstruction of road users”.

“It is obvious to anyone who observes the daily chaos of traffic along the link road to the existing and proposed new residential units at Taylor’s Hill Court, that the inclusion of off-road parking for 24 cars will seriously affect the already difficult egress and exit of car drivers along this road.

“The prospect of 24 residents trying to reverse out of their car parking spaces in order to exit this link road at peak times puts shivers down out spines.

“This link road is used by small children walking to Scoil Róis primary school around the corner. Secondary school pupils walk on both the footpaths and the road, often looking at their phones as teenagers are wont to do.

“Pupils cycle along the road, with other pupils regularly alighting from both sides of cars which stop along both sides of the link road and then cross from one side to the other.

“We have become aware recently that an access has had to be created from Scoil Róis into the grounds at the back of the Dominican secondary school in order to allow ambulance access to the secondary school in the case of an emergency. This was required as the link road is often so congested that an ambulance could not gain access.

“The provision of eight set-down spaces on each side of Rosary Lane in the past month cannot be regarded as anything other than a minimal response to the current traffic congestion and hazard in the area,” the appeal reads.

The residents’ associations also raised concerns about open space requirements and the loss of amenity to existing residents in the locality.

“The residents of the existing apartments will in fact be looking out onto a three-storey apartment block,” the residents said, adding that the apartments would lead to an increase in noise levels leading to a loss of amenity for the surrounding lower density housing.


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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