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Connacht Tribune

Additional retail and commercial space in Tuam blueprint

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Sorting out additional retail space – to include provision for major supermarkets – is likely to form a key part of the new development blueprint for Tuam.

That would include a new Tesco store with the potential for a new hotel and shop units also under consideration the new plan.

Lands around the town have been rezoned from residential to commercial and retail – and this provides the opportunity for one of the ‘major players’ to arrive in Tuam.

There are plans by Tesco to provide a new store on a 20 acre site on the Milltown Road while there is potential for a new hotel and retail park on the Galway Road.

It now means that Tuam can develop into a retail and commercial hub, declared Cllr Donagh Killilea who proposed the planning designations of three crucial areas in Tam.

The Tuam Area Plan came up for discussion at a meeting of Galway County Council and it was decided by councillors to endorse three particular areas of the town for both retail, commercial and residential development.

Tuam area councillors agreed to provide the town with designations that would allow for major retail development along with housing – it is now hoped that some of the big supermarket chains will apply for planning.

It is known that Tesco are already interested in a major site on the Milltown Road in Tuam – and have been for years – and a planning application to this extent is expected to be lodged within a matter of months.

There is a large site on the Galway Road in Tuam which has been earmarked for ‘mixed use’ development and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a new hotel could be located there.

The site would also accommodate a number of retail units but it would prove a major boost for Tuam as all developments would be located between the two new roundabouts that have been provided as part of the overall motorway development.

Meanwhile, around 40 acres of land on the Dublin Road has been designated for housing and could potentially accommodate more than 500 accommodation units.

Cllr Donagh Killilea said that Tuam needed more retail space and that was why he was endorsing additional designations for some of the ‘main players’ to come into the town. He was supported by Fine Gael’s Cllr Tom McHugh.

“For too long, the town has been haemorrhaging business to the likes of Claremorris and Galway city and it is high time that we provided proper retail space for our own.

“We have now agreed that lands have been designated to accommodate some of the main retail chains and at the same time we have made provision for much needed housing in the town.

“It is imperative that we develop Tuam as a retail hub of North Galway and I think that the designations that we have suggested will work and benefit the town into the future,” Cllr Killilea added.

Connacht Tribune

Unauthorised developments in County Galway go unchecked for months

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The Planning Enforcement Section of Galway County Council is so understaffed that complaints of unauthorised developments are not being investigated for months, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

In one case, a complaint alleging a house was under construction in a picturesque and environmentally sensitive part of Conamara without planning permission was not investigated by the Council for at least six months.

And it can be revealed that there is a ‘large’ backlog of complaints of unauthorised developments in the county, which the Planning Enforcement Section at County Hall has blamed on staff shortages, according to correspondence obtained by the Connacht Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

In response to repeated requests by a concerned member of the public to intervene and investigate an allegation of unauthorised development in an environmentally protected area of Conamara, the Council’s Planning Department indicated it was too stretched.

“Unfortunately, the planning enforcement section is experiencing a period of prolonged staff shortages and consequently there are a large number of files awaiting investigation/review,” it said.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Access Centre provides pathways to University of Galway for the disadvantaged

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Photo of Imelda Byrne

Great leaps have been made in recent years to make access to tertiary level education a realistic prospect for once marginalised groups in society.

With the deadline for CAO applications approaching next week, the Access Centre at the University of Galway is aiming to reach as many underrepresented groups as possible ahead of next academic term.

Head of the Access Centre, Imelda Byrne (pictured), said research has shown that those who once felt third level ‘wasn’t for them’ are increasing their presence at UG, and bringing a richness to the sector that had for a long time been missing.

In the five years up to 2021, there was a 100% increase in the number of students registering for the Disability Support Service at the university, while those coming from Further Education and Training courses in institutes like GTI had surged by 211% over four years.

“The message that we really need to get out there is that the CAO is not the only route into third level. There are a number of pathways,” says Imelda.

“There are loads of places set aside for students coming from a place of disadvantage,” she continues, whether it’s national schemes such as the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) for socio-economic disadvantage; or the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE); or the university’s own programme for mature students.

Those places are there to ensure those from all backgrounds get an opportunity to reach their education potential, tapping into hugely talented groups that once may have missed that opportunity.

“What we have seen is that when they get that opportunity, they do just as well if not better than other students,” continues Imelda.

For HEAR and DARE scheme applicants, and for those hoping to begin higher education as a mature student, next Wednesday’s CAO deadline is critically important.

But beyond the CAO applications, the Access Programme will open up in March to guide prospective students, whatever challenges they are facing, into third level.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council ‘missing out on millions’ in derelict sites levies

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Photo of Cloonabinnia House

Galway County Council is missing out on millions of euro in untapped revenue due to a failure to compile a complete Derelict Sites Register.

That’s according to Galway East Sinn Féin representative, Louis O’Hara, who this week blasted the news that just three properties across the whole county are currently listed on the register.

As a result, Mr O’Hara said the Derelict Sites Levy was not being utilised effectively as countless crumbling properties remained unregistered – the levy amounts to 7% of the market value of the derelict property annually.

The former general election candidate said Galway County Council was ill-equipped to compile a proper list of derelict sites and called on Government to provide the necessary resources to tackle the scourge of dereliction across.

“There are still only three properties listed on Galway County Council’s Derelict Sites Register . . . anyone in Galway knows that this does not reflect the reality on the ground and more must be done to identify properties, and penalise owners who fail to maintain them,” said Mr O’Hara.

The situation was compounded by the fact that the Council failed to collect any of the levies due to them in 2021.

“This is deeply concerning when we know that dereliction is a blight on our communities. Derelict sites attract rats, anti-social behaviour and dumping, and are an eyesore in many of our local towns and villages.”

“The Derelict Sites Levy should be used as a tool by local authorities to raise revenue that can then be utilised to tackle dereliction, but they are not adequately resourced to identify and pursue these property owners,” said Mr O’Hara.

(Photo: The former Cloonabinnia House Hotel is on the Derelict Sites Register).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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