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CITY TRIBUNE

Council brands new homes plan a ‘missed opportunity’

Enda Cunningham

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Galway City Council has rejected plans for more than 70 new homes in Castlegar, ruling it would be a “missed opportunity” for the developer to build even more homes.

In August 2018, Cathal O’Connor of Altitude Distribution Ltd in Sligo sought permission to develop the 5.4-acre site on School Road to include 74 homes and 168 parking spaces.

The proposal comprised 60 houses and 14 apartments – 27 three-bed terraced; 22 three-bed semis; 8 two-bed semis; 7 three-bed duplex; 7 two-bed apartments; 2 four-bed semis and a four-bed detached house. There were also 20 bicycle parking spaces proposed.

However, planners at City Hall pointed out that because the land is zoned residential and serviced, the proposal would not meet the requirements of the current City Development Plan.

The Council asked that the plans be revised to increase the density of the development.

Questions were also raised about the overall design and layout of the development.

In a response lodged with the Council in January, the applicants argued that the plans were actually in accordance with Government guidelines for urban housing and due to requirements for a “buffer zone” for the ESB on the site.

A number of the houses were re-orientated so that the face open space within the site and a play area has been introduced.

However, the Council has now ruled that the development would be in conflict with the City Development Plan, would injure the residential amenities of adjacent properties and would generate a traffic hazard.

Planners said the lands are residentially zoned, fully services and “where no particular constraints apply”, adding that poor design led to “missed opportunities for a sustainable level of density, unit mix and permeability”.

The Council said ministerial guidelines for sustainable residential development in urban areas require the provision of high density, high-quality housing, and that if permitted the proposal would contravene the Development Plan and ministerial guidelines.

“[It would] represent an unsustainable density/units per hectare and inefficient use of residentially-zoned services lands within the city boundaries which would be contrary to the sustainable development of the area.

“The design of the proposed buildings, in particular the design of the duplex units, the proposed flat roofs, poor animation of the street frontage, lack of interaction with the public realm, poor design of gables facing to internal roads and the lack of variation in overall building design, is such that it has poor contextual reference to contemporary residential developments within Galway City, rendering the proposal an unsatisfactory solution to the development of this site.

“The proposal contravenes Development Plan standards relating to the prevention of overlooking of adjacent lands with development potential and private open space, and if permitted, would detract and be injurious to the residential amenities of adjacent proposed properties,” the Council’s decision reads.

The decision to refuse permission adds that the proposal would rely on works outside the applicant’s control to safely access/exit the site, particularly the upgrading of the adjacent roadway, and therefore the development would be premature and generate a traffic hazard.

The Castlegar Residents’ Association objected to the application on the grounds it would “present a direct and foreseeable risk to public safety along School Road because of the proposed access arrangements, the consequent increase of vehicular traffic and the absence of appropriate infrastructure or public transport”.

They point out that there are no lane markings on School Road and at a number of locations, the road is not wide enough for two cars to pass and point out there are no footpaths.

Those concerns were echoed individually by a number of other residents, and by Cllr Terry O’Flaherty, who asked planners to take the “very valid concerns” into account.

Objectors said the overall area requires a Local Area Plan, and not piecemeal development and there are no useable bus services along the School Road.

According to the Companies Registration Office, Altitude Distribution Ltd was dissolved in October 2018, meaning it no longer legally exists.

CITY TRIBUNE

Jon Kenny visits Áras Éanna with hit show Crowman

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Actor and comedian Jon Kenny will visit Áras Éanna on Inis Oírr this Saturday, August 24, performing in Katie Holly’s hit one-man show Crowman.

The play premiered at the 2018 Cork Midsummer Festival, receiving standing ovations from audiences and praise from critics.

Crowman is the story of Dan Lonergan and the characters he meets throughout his life.

It’s about lost love and the sense of belonging and not belonging in a small community. Most of all, it’s about the humanity and decency of people in every village and town in Ireland.

As Dan himself surmises: ‘Some people never had the dance that I had and some people never hear the music.’

Jon Kenny carries the audience on a roller-coaster ride from Dan’s childhood to middle-age, from the hurling pitch to the pub and from one uproariously funny character to the other.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

2020 still far short of private funding target

Dara Bradley

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Galway 2020, the company set-up to deliver the European Capital of Culture next year, remains well behind on its target of raising €6.75 million in private funding.

Making Waves, the bid book that won Galway the designation, committed Galway 2020 to raising income totalling €6.75 million from private sponsors and philanthropists.

The bid book specified that this was income to be spent on operating expenditure for the year-long programme of events.

With less than a month to go before the official programme is unveiled, Galway 2020 declined this week to confirm how much money it has raised through sponsorship.

Galway 2020 has consistently said that it intends to raise €6.75m in sponsorship; and this figure has been quoted in several briefing documents prepared for Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, which were released to the Galway City Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

A briefing note for Minister Madigan dated April 10, 2019, under the heading, ‘philanthropy’, mentioned that some €133,477 had been received in total by Galway 2020 in sponsorship and in-kind support as of December 31, 2018.

In March 2019, a financial report by Galway 2020, confirmed that the company had raised less than €30,000 in private sponsorship income last year. This suggests that some €100,000 of the total raised last year, was in-kind.

When asked to clarify how much cash it has raised from sponsorship, minus in-kind support, Galway 2020 said its “fundraising target hasn’t changed”.

“The current value of the fundraising and partnerships pipeline is €4.5m – this includes a combination of commercial as well as trusts and foundations, comprising funds already committed, proposals submitted and further partnerships that are under consideration. These proposals and agreements are a combination of cash and in-kind support,” it said.

Galway 2020 declined to elaborate on how much of this €4.5 million “pipeline” was income and how much was in-kind support. It also did not say how much of that “pipeline” is already ‘banked’, and how much was not yet collected.

Included in that €4.5 million figure was a “significant corporate partnership with Medtronic”, which has become the health partner of Galway 2020 and sponsor of its Wave Maker volunteer programme, it said. However, Galway 2020 did not elaborate on the cash value – as opposed to any in-kind value – of that agreement, which was announced a fortnight ago.

“The nature of the breakdown of partnership agreements are commercially sensitive to each of our partners,” a spokesperson said.

The sole mention of the term “in-kind” in the bid book is on page 89, where it states: “The Promotion & Marketing budget described above will be supplemented by in-kind marketing benefit from our supporters, strategic partners & producers.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

120 households facing eviction

Dara Bradley

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Low-income city households are staring down the barrel of homelessness after a flood of eviction notices were issued this Summer.

Galway City Council has confirmed that landlords have issued a total of 120 Notices to Quit to families and single people in June and July. Twelve were on RAS (Rental Accommodation Scheme) or Long-Term Leasing, and the remaining 108 were on HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) or other social schemes in the private rental sector.

All 120 are on the Council housing wait list, but anecdotally, scores more private tenants have been issued with notices to vacate their apartments and houses – adding more fuel to the ongoing crisis.

The 120-plus evicted tenants are now in the market to find alternative rental accommodation, and are competing with the thousands of third level students who are back in the city this month searching for digs.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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