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Concerns over extension plan for Our Lady’s College



Galway City’s Heritage Officer and environmental group An Taisce have expressed concerns about a proposed three-storey extension to Our Lady’s College.

Last December, Ceist Ltd (the Catholic Education and Irish Schools Trust) sought permission for the new extension, which will include space for three classrooms, a new science lab, business studies room, technology rooms, preparation rooms and toilets at the school on Presentation Road.

The new building is proposed for the northern end of the 1960s structure on the school grounds and will involve the removal of pre-fab classroom to adjacent to the canal; removal of a storage and toilet enclosure under the 1960s building and removal of a pre-fab classroom adjacent to the primary school building.

However, planners subsequently sought justification from school authorities on why such a large extension was required, and how they intended to reduce car usage among parents and staff.

In its response, Ceist said Our Lady’s College – the amalgamation of the Presentation and Mercy secondary schools – would have a long-term enrolment is estimated at 420 students.

An evaluation carried out in 2014 found existing accommodation of 4,386 square metres, with a requirement for an additional 2,058 sq m to cater for a school population of 500 pupils.

The existing planning application is for 1,127 sq m, and there is a new PE hall planned in a second phase.

“Our Lady College currently operate daily on both school sites and will continue to do so until the proposed building extension is completed. This is a very unsatisfactory position from the school’s standpoint and continues to create significant issues with timetabling, staffing and integration.”

In a Mobility Management Plan, school authorities said that only staff vehicles and vehciles carrying a student with restricted mobility will be permitted to enter the site, and drop-off on Presentation Road in the vicinity of the site will be “discouraged”.

The school has contacted the Council to become part of the Park ‘n’ Stride initiative (allowing parents with special stickers free parking for an hour in the morning and evening at Mill Street carpark) and will be encouraging Drop ‘n’ Hop at Mill Street carpark, 220 metres away.

Following the clarification, An Taisce said it was satisfied when it saw the initial plans that the impacts on the Eglinton Canal were acceptable.

However, the environmental group was “especially concerned” about the indication of Phase 2 – a PE hall and outdoor playing courts – as it would have a negative impact on the canal’s wildlife corridor.

Concerns were also raised about traffic volumes and safety.

“Despite the obvious concerns about the level of parent car drop-offs and the proposals to introduce Park and Stride mitigation. An Taisce must express some concern about the unreality of reducing parent drop-offs, while at the same time increasing pupil numbers.

“The proposed location of the entrance gate is quite close to a ‘blind’ corner and with a footpath on only one side of the road, this even at the present time is a dangerous corner, all the more so when funerals and weddings are on at nearby St Joseph’s.”

An Taisce added that suggestions of a drop-off point and Mill Street carpark are “fanciful and expectations unrealisable”.

Meanwhile, the City Council’s Heritage Officer, Jim Higgins, said he was opposed to the removal of any of the stone wall to the front or side of the school, and also opposed to the demolition of the 1960s shelter “which is an interesting architectural feature with a rarity of value and worthy of retention”.

A decision on the application is expected later this month.

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Plan for ‘world-class’ campus with potential for 10,000 jobs at Galway Airport



From this week’s Galway CIty Tribune – A proposal to transform the former Galway Airport into a ‘world-class’ business and technology campus has been drawn up by Galway County Council – with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs.

The plan, which was compiled as part of the Draft County Development Plan, proposes a multi-million-euro investment in the 115-acre site owned jointly by the County and City Councils.

According to the vision document, the airport site at Carnmore could become a key economic driver that would “attract and secure long-term investment in Galway and the western region, and underpin the development of the Galway Metropolitan Area”.

Among the sectors identified as potential occupants are renewable energy, biodiversity, food science and logistics.

Some of the structures included for are a ‘landmark building’; commercial units; park amenity and recreation space; a renewable energy park; and a multi-purpose leisure facility.

A contemporary development with the potential to accommodate emerging industries is promised, with projected employment numbers ranging between 3,500 to 10,000 over time.

However, county councillors raised concerns at a meeting this week that the proposal they had seen in the Development Plan had been ‘sitting on a shelf’ since last March – and they still hadn’t seen what was dubbed ‘the masterplan’ for the airport site.

Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) told the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District meeting that the recent news that Oranmore was among the locations being looked at by multinational tech giant, Intel, put fresh focus on the future of the airport.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Work expected to start on Galway City cycleways next summer



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first six projects in the city’s major new cycle network are expected to begin construction by next June.

In an update on developments that are in train to improve the lot of cyclists, councillors at this week’s local authority meeting were told that the Martin Roundabout (near the Galway Clinic) would next be changed to a junction and the BusConnects, involving priority bus lanes from Moneenageisha to University Hospital Galway, were advancing.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has approved a raised cycle lane north of Railway Bridge on Doughiska Road South and for a shared street south of the bridge.

Eglinton Canal will turn into a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Four weeks of public consultation on both of these is set to begin in October, with the projects set to go to detailed design and tender following final NTA approval.

Ballybane, Castlepark and Bóthar Stiofáin Roads will also go to public consultation for “raised adjacent cycle schemes” a month after that.

The six projects are expected to begin construction by the end of June or early July next year.

Millars Lane is currently in preliminary design stage after clearing works were carried out last November.

Options are being examined and parking survey prepared for Threadneedle, Bishop O’Donnell, Dr Mannix, Devon Park, Salthill Road Upper and Lower Roads with input and designs from the Parkmore Strategic Framework awaited for the Monivea and Doughiska North Roads.

Active Travel Schemes had been approved in principle by the NTA for Ballyloughane and Clybaun South Roads, involving pedestrian crossings, traffic calming, signalisation of junctions and the integration of safe school routes.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) noted that the first quarter of 2021 was when some of these projects were to go to construction, according to a previous timetable.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Pamela’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Racecourse Park and Ride a non-runner for Christmas in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The lack of a park and ride service this Christmas will drive shoppers out of town at a time when businesses are struggling to recover from months in lockdown, the Mayor has warned.

This is after it was revealed that the City Council has failed to secure an alternative location for the service – with its usual base at Galway Racecourse out of action due to the ongoing vaccination programme.

The service, which had previously operated for the three-week period in the run up to Christmas, enabled motorists to park their cars in Ballybrit and take a return trip by bus to town at a cost of just €2 – taking hundreds of cars out of the city centre.

The Mayor, Cllr Colette Connolly, said it was ‘completely ludicrous’ that it would not be in operation this year, in a city that was already gridlocked with car traffic.

“I think that it is a retrograde step not to proceed with the Christmas Park and Ride because we know what will happen – we’ve seen before what happens at the Corrib Centre around Christmas where traffic backs up and people get stuck in the car park,” said the Mayor.

This would result in shoppers from outside the city avoiding coming in, while others would go to other towns and cities to avoid traffic misery.

“They will go to Limerick or to Dublin, which is only two-and-a-half hours away. They will go to Athlone, because they may as well go there, rather than spend two hours sitting in traffic on Lough Atalia,” added the Independent councillor.

In Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath’s report to councillors, it is stated that “it is looking unlikely that Galway City Council will be able to run the Christmas Park and Ride in 2021”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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