City councillors have been told to plough ahead with plans to change Kirwan Roundabout despite strong opposition from local residents.
In a circular issued to elected members, Chief Executive Brendan McGrath recommends councillors should vote to change the City Development Plan, which would pave the way for the roundabout to become a signalised junction.
This is despite vehement opposition to the plan by local residents who mounted a protest near the junction on Wednesday morning.
Kirwan Action Group represents residents’ associations in Menlo, Carraig Bán, Lakewood Park, Crestwood, Castlelwan Heights, Tirellan Heights, Illaunree, Baillinfoile Park, Caislin, and Sandyvale Lawn, who oppose the proposal.
The group, in its submission, argues the proposed change “does nothing to address the root causes of congestion” in the area; inconveniences and isolates residents; damages shops, hotels and businesses in the area; adds two sets of traffic lights, making it nine between Ballinfoile Church and the Courthouse; and makes no provision for public transport.
Kirwan Action Group said it was “dishonest in the extreme” to link future development of Menlo Park Hotel to this variation of the development plan. The group said the proposal on the table now is the exact same one that was rejected five years ago.
The proposed variation has two strands. The first is to add a specific objective into the City Development Plan, which identifies a portion of land that the Council will consider the use of for revisions to the junction.
“These revisions will include the replacement of the existing access from the Menlo Road onto the Kirwan Junction by facilitating the construction of a link road from the Menlo Road connecting onto the Headford Road and will also facilitate a redesign of the existing junction . . .”
The second change to the development plan says the City Council will consider “the development of a leisure centre and swimming pool” underground in front of the Menlo Park Hotel.
At a public meeting last month, a spokesperson for the hotel made clear that it was opposed to the plans to remove the roundabout, which would involve the Council compulsory purchasing land off the owners.
In his report on the matter, Mr McGrath notes that the proposed variation, according to the National Transport Authority, is “consistent with” the Galway Transport Strategy 2016-2035. It also aligns with transportation strategy in the Development Plan, “which supports the need to improve accessibility, reduce congestion and promotes sustainable transport solutions and is in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.
Mr McGrath is recommending city councillors make the amendments to the Development Plan, and says the public will have another opportunity to have their say on the design during the Part 8 planning stages.