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Planning process is bound up in red tape



The mounting costs of planning applications – and the lack of Local Authority funding to take over private roads and estates – have been described as impediments to people wishing to build their own homes.

Some planning applicants could face up to €40,000 before laying a foundation in indirect costs from planning fees, development contribution costs and mandatory tests like soil, flooding risks and screening tests — though this figure is on the high end of the scale.

This week, the council meeting acknowledged there was a housing crisis and a number of them expressed their concerns about the increasing difficulties being faced by applicants, especially those in areas like South Galway where there was a high flood risk.

Cllr Joe Byrne, a qualified civil engineer by profession, said he was aware of the challenges associated with planning applications but objected to a motion proposed by Cllr Jim Cuddy (seconded by Cllr James Charity) that every private road leading to a one off house granted by the Council planners be taken in charge and if not that applicants not be charged the roads development contribution levy.

The discussion heard CEO Kevin Kelly advising the same on the grounds that it would cost the Council dearly and that there was no funding for it anyway.

Cllr Bryne said he agreed with the proposal’s sentiments but realistically it couldn’t be done, not only for financial reasons, but for health and safety issues as the Local Authority would have to take responsibility for each exit onto main roads.

Cllr Byrne explained his €40,000 figure was exceptional but that an average application for a 170 sq metre (2000 sq ft) house depending on its proximity to a water mains, its location etc, could come to that.

Cost include an Irish Water connection charge of €1,500, possibly a flood risk study, a screening report for environmental impact, a hydro-geological report and an allocation for roads and footpaths which could be as much as €2,000 at €7 per sq metre.

Cllr Byrne welcomed an agreement this week to reduce that allocation cost by half but said that for some people, especially those living in South Galway, securing planning permission for one off houses was still very difficult.

He was also aware of some cases where some financial institutions refused mortgages where a house was not being built on a public road.

Cllr Cuddy said it was unfair to ask applicants to make the roads contribution — a cost introduced in 2010 — when the road leading up to their house wasn’t being taken in charge by the Council.

Cllr Jim McClearn said he was concerned that the adoption of Cllr Cuddy’s proposal would in fact be a deterrent to some applicants being refused planning permission as the Council hadn’t the funds to take-in-charge every single private road in the county.

Mr Kelly said that they hadn’t had the benefit of this particular development cost until five years ago and that it could be in their gift to build up these funds to upgrade a number of roads. He strongly advised making a link between this development cost and an onus on the Council to do something they weren’t in a position to do.

Years ago, small private roads were upgraded through the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) but this no longer existed but there was nothing stopping a number of house-owners living on such a road getting together to upgrade a road with the help of Notice of Motion monies donated by their own local councillors.

Cllr Mary Hoade said most people believed if there were a few houses on a road that it was a public road and expected it to be maintained by the Council. She said the Council would have to demand extra funding from Central funds to cope with the issue.

Cllr Cuddy said people felt very aggrieved that this was the case as they wondered where their car tax money and Local Property Tax had gone.

His motion was lost by 15 to ten with two abstentions.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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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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