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CITY TRIBUNE

150 new social housing units given green light in Knocknacarra

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Two house-building projects in Knocknacarra – which will provide 152 social housing units – have been given the green light, but amendments to the plans means they will be delayed by months.

Councillors at a meeting of Galway City Council welcomed the first social housing schemes in ten years in the city where 4,140 families — an estimated 12,000 people — are on the housing list.

However, following a decision by councillors to omit a link road in one scheme of 78 residential units at Ballyburke and a pedestrian/cycleway in the second scheme of 74 units, neither of these will now go to tender in August as planned, as the amended plans will have to be resubmitted to the Department of the Environment.

The bigger of the two schemes at Ballyburke on the Ballymoneen Road (the Ard Cré development, part of which is currently under construction) is fully financed by public funds, but Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, said the other scheme of 74 units, at the entrance to Coláiste na Coiribe could be in jeopardy as it was being built by a private contractor under a Public Private Partnership scheme.

“I am not crying wolf here,” he warned councillors, “but this scheme is part of a bundle and I would be concerned that there is a risk that the bundle will proceed without us.”

Patricia Philbin, Senior Executive Officer, had told the meeting she had hoped to send the housing plans to the Department in July, go to tender in August, break ground next January and have them completed by the middle of 2020.

Cllr Declan McDonnell, chairman of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee, described concerns about alleyways and through roads as “delaying tactics” and said he would not be supporting it in light of the need for housing in the city.

But a number of councillors were determined to bring public concerns to the meeting about security, crime and child safety. There were 72 submissions made on this scheme alone after it went on public display. Mr McGrath said he was surprised at the tone and language used in a number of these.  Councillors Mark Lohan and Billy Cameron agreed.

Cllr Niall McNelis said that the concerns of local people had to be taken into account as residents did not want alleyways or areas that would attract anti-social behaviour and that the Council had to close many of these off in recent years for that reason.

Outgoing Mayor of Galway, Cllr Pearce Flannery stressed that houses needed to be built and he welcomed both schemes, but without the link road or the laneways.

It was pointed out to councillors that there was no comparison to alleyways in previous housing estates to what was envisaged here, where the pedestrian/cycle way giving access to the school, were designed differently.

Both Mr McGrath and Ms Philbin, Acting Director of Services, explained to councillors that such linkage roads and walkways were part of the city’s own Development Plan, as well as the National Development Plan as they represented sustainability of movement and transport and to omit them in these schemes was going against national policy and in fact might mean that homeowners in adjacent estates might find when selling that their properties were not certificate compliant.

Cllr Lohan said he welcomed the housing schemes and their layout — they will include four, three and two-bedroomed houses and duplexes to suit smaller family units with playgrounds and green spaces as well as home zones — but was concerned about the reluctance of some councillors to get them the go-ahead.

Cllr Cathal Ó Conchúir acknowledged that alleyways had created anti-social problems before, but was confident these pedestrian/cycle ways were totally different as they were overlooked by houses and weren’t surrounded by high walls.

Despite the executive advice to the meeting, councillors voted to amend both plans by 14 to 3.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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