The Government has been urged to prioritise roads projects, including the proposed new city bypass, officially known as the N6 Galway City Transport Project.
The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has included the controversial project, which is still in the planning stages, in its ‘shopping list’ submitted to Finance Minister Michael Noonan.
The builders’ lobby group has included the bypass in its pre-budget submission, ahead of Budget 2017.
“The Galway City Outer Bypass would significantly alleviate the chronic traffic congestion problems in the city. It would also open up development opportunities for both the city and county which in turn would attract additional investment and employment opportunities,” CIF said in its pre-budget submission seen by the Galway City Tribune.
The Cork to Limerick motorway, and improvements to national roads in Mayo and Sligo are also included in their demands.
CIF argues in its submission that infrastructural investment has been “decimated” since the recession hit eight years ago.
Tom Parlon, CIF director general, said spending on roads projects such as the city bypass provide an injection into the economy.
He claimed an increase in spending on construction yields some 10,000 jobs. “Transport infrastructure is critically important for spatial planning and economic development but suffers key weaknesses. A major expansion of the road network occurred during the 1990s and 2000s, in particular in terms of motorways. The completion of the regional network connecting urban centres like Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo must happen,” said Mr Parlon.
He welcomed the Government’s commitment to increase housing supply by 25,000 each year by 2020.
“However, without a concomitant increase in capital investment in infrastructure, there is a risk that these houses will not be adequately serviced by road, rail, water and broadband,” he said.
Mr Parlon said Galway can play its part in acting as a counter balance to Dublin, the economic engine of the country.
He added: “Without balanced regional development, the Irish economy will continue to become unsustainably dependent on Dublin as our sole engine for growth. Anyone who doesn’t believe the infrastructure deficit and housing shortage are related should look at NAMA’s plans for housebuilding; 78pc of its proposed activity centres on Dublin, the rest on Cork and Galway.
“It believes, like many builders, that it is not economically viable to build outside these urban centres. No housebuilding activity in these areas will only exacerbate the current problem.
“It is estimated the Cork region accounts for 17% of Ireland’s GDP. With such a significant economic base, the region can act as a complementary counter-balance to Dublin. Then connecting Cork to Limerick and Galway could create a powerful economic corridor that, marketed correctly, could yield regional balanced growth by attracting increased levels of foreign direct investment.
“Transport infrastructure is critically important for spatial planning and economic development but suffers key weaknesses. The completion of the regional network connecting urban centres like Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo must happen.”
Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site
An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.
The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.
It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.
In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.
“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.
A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.
A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.
It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.
Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.
The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.
NUIG student accommodation firm records loss
The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.
However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.
Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.
The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.
Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.
The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.
Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.
Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.
The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).
The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.
It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.
As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.
It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.
In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.
Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan
Bike users want the local authority to examine the introduction of two-way cycling on one-way city centre streets.
Galway Cycling Campaign has again called for cycling to be allowed both ways. It comes as Galway City Council prepares to cordon-off parts of city centre streets to traffic, and make Dominick Street Lower one-way, to facilitate outdoor dining.
The cycling organisation said that the proposed pedestrianisation plan at the Small Crane, and the one-way system on Dominick Street, will result in lengthy diversions for people on bikes.
It has pointed out that school children and their guardians who cycle along Raleigh Row, and turn right towards Sea Road, will probably continue to do so even when the Small Crane is cordoned off to traffic, because the alternative route – via Henry Street – is too long a detour.
Similarly, it has been suggested that food-delivery services on bikes are unlikely to go the ‘long way round’ via Mill Street and New Road to get from Bridge Mills to restaurants on Dominick Street and would be tempted to cycle the ‘wrong way’ down the proposed one-way street or on the footpath.
Shane Foran, committee member of Galway Cycling Campaign, said now would be an ideal time to introduce two-way cycling on some one-way streets.
“It’s not controversial,” insisted Mr Foran. “It’s a general principle in other countries, if you are putting in new traffic arrangements, you would try and keep access for people on bikes.”
The regulation is contained in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009; and a specific objective was contained in two of the most recent previous City Development Plans.
He said a former minister and Galway West TD, the late Bobby Molloy, had the vision to change the legislation in the late 1990s – but it hasn’t yet been embraced here.
“Bobby Molloy, who couldn’t be classed as an eco warrior, changed the law in 1998, so that it is available to local authorities to put up a sign granting an exemption from restrictions for people cycling on one-way streets.
“The road stays one-way for cars, and two ways for bicycles. Clearly that’s not going to be a sensible to do everywhere, like Merchants’ Road. In those situations, you might need a cycle track or lane to segregate people from traffic.
“But if it’s a low traffic street, with low speeds or relatively lower volumes of cars, then it should be possible for people on bicycles to cycle in both directions and still have it one-way for cars, without it being a major safety issue. It works in other countries,” said Mr Foran.