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State transport body moves to block Rahoon housing scheme



Plans for a large housing estate in Rahoon encroach onto land earmarked for Galway’s proposed ring road project, it has been claimed.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and Galway County Council lodged objections to An Bord Pleanála about a proposal by Cairn Homes Property Limited to build 151 homes on a 10-acre site south of Letteragh Road.

The proposal to demolish a shed and construct 93 houses, 58 apartments and a crèche, was lodged with An Bord Pleanála under Strategic Housing Development legislation last April.

The Board had been due to decide on the proposal by August 2, but confirmed to the Galway City Tribune it has been delayed.

A total of five submissions were made to the planning appeals board including two that claimed it encroached on land earmarked for the N6 Galway City Ring Road project that has been approved by ABP but is subject to a challenge.

Galway County Council urged APB to reject the housing plan.

It claimed it “encroaches onto the development boundary and lands to be compulsorily acquired for the (ring road) scheme and will sever lands being acquired for the scheme drainage”.

The development was “unacceptable” to the Council, according to Seán Devaney, Senior Engineer.

It would “prejudice the construction” of the proposed road; and could “lead to flooding on lands” within the road development scheme.

The housing plan includes changes to the N59 link road south embankment but the Council said it has not consented to this, nor is this change factored into the Environmental Impact Assessment carried out as part of the Ring Road plans.

The Council warned it would not pay additional costs of mitigating the changes if the Strategic Housing Development proceeds.

TII said the development would “adversely affect the operation and safety of the national road network” because it “could prejudice plans for the delivery” of the Ring Road.

A retaining wall included in the plan could “significantly impact” the ring road but the applicant did not include a Technical Acceptance report, which is required by regulations. TII said this was a “considerable omission” and “should be resolved prior to any decision to approve”.

It concluded the plans could negatively impact the ring road and would be “contrary to the provisions of Government policy”.

Galway Cycling Campaign complained the development over emphasised design principles for vehicles providing access to Letteragh and Rahoon Roads via Bóthar Diarmuida.

Through traffic would “reduce safety and liveability” of the proposed development’s future residents, it said.

The cycling lobby highlighted its road safety concerns, permeability design concerns, and concerns about cycling infrastructure in its submission, which called for modifications and a Request for Further Information.

Neighbours of the proposed development, Róisín and Dermot Hughes, have objected on the ground it would generate “significant increase in the volume of traffic, give rise to traffic congestion and would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard in an a area with small and narrow roads with restricted capacity”.

Irish Water confirmed the development was feasible without water or wastewater infrastructure upgrades.

The plans for the site, which surrounds the Breacán estate, also include 280 carparking and 173 bicycles spaces and would be accessed from the Letteragh Road and from Bóthar Diarmuida, which runs from the Rahoon Road and links Rosán Glas and Bun a’ Chnoic.

According to the proposals, a key factor in the development is the provision for a major link road along the western boundary – the N59 link road is proposed as part of the Ring Road project, which is currently the subject of several High Court challenges.

Planning applications for housing developments of more than 100 residential units or 200 student bed spaces can be made directly to An Bord Pleanála following initial consultations with local authorities under the SHD (Strategic Housing Development) process.


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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