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CITY TRIBUNE

Cyclists seek redesign of Ardaun suburb plan

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Cycling campaigners have urged Galway City Council to abandon half of the planned urban village of Ardaun and completely redesign roads in the other part or risk creating yet another “inherently car dependent and unsustainable” suburb.

In one of 14 submissions to planners on the material alterations in the draft Ardaun Local Area Plan (LAP), Shane Foran of the Galway Cycling Campaign pulls no punches in lambasting the design, saying it “defies belief”.

The plan, which will be the planning blueprint for the area of major city growth until 2024, is located on the east side of the city on a largely greenfield site of 164 hectares (405 acres) while adjacent to most of the big employers in Parkmore, Ballybrit and near the Galway Clinic and Merlin Park Hospital.

With Galway City projected to grow to 96,700 people by 2022, the plan estimates that Ardaun could accommodate over 8,000 of this population target. The first phase, Ardaun South, is projected to have 1,098 units and support an estimated population of 2,987.

It aims to create a new community and business district within the city, “incorporating sustainable densities underpinned by the accommodation of sustainable transport modes, supporting facilities and services”.

“A key role and function of Ardaun, as identified in the city plan, is to strategically rebalance settlement patterns in the city and to facilitate increased co-location of living and working areas within the city, thereby minimising travel demand and providing for urban consolidation.”

However, the entire design is flawed and completely dominated by car-centric thinking, insists Mr Foran.

“The nature of the roads surrounding the site is incompatible with the relevant guidance such as the National Cycle Policy Framework, the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets and the NTA [National Transport Authority] Permeability Best Practice Guide.

“As such in its current form this location at Ardaun is not suitable for residential development, unless significant remedial action is taken, the local area plan should be set aside in favour of finding a more suitable location.”

Mr Foran states that proposed access in and out of Ardaun through roundabouts and slip roads is wholly incompatible with residential development.

“The proposed integrated sustainable urban community has been cut in two. The southern portion of the Ardaun lands have now been cut off by what could be best characterised as a ring of steel formed by the motorway and the dual carriageways.”

He notes that the bus corridor “through Merlin Park to Park to Eastern bypass at proposed M6 link via new slip road” is stated as also for use by cyclists. Yet it is to join the N6 dual carriageway via slip roads at the Coolagh Roundabout that marks the end of the M6.

“The idea that cyclists trying to access or leave Ardaun would be required to merge across traffic and use slip roads simply defies belief,” he exclaims.

“It is hard to see how the southern section of Ardaun could be viably integrated into the wider city or even the

adjacent communities of Roscam, Doughska and Briarhill/Coolough. The nature of the surrounding roads infrastructure creates a location where motorist travel will be imposed for most who wish to travel outside of south Ardaun.

“Without a radical revision of the adjacent roads, the best option may be to abandon the southern section of Ardaun as a location for development and focus on other areas of the city,” said the cycling campaigner.

The draft Ardaun LAP states that it is anticipated that the area will have an estimated population of 9,500. However, in the material alteration the population is revised, predicting to grow to 12,621.

The Department of Education & Skills says in that case instead of reserving sites for two primary schools and two secondary schools, the plan should set aside room for an additional 16 classroom school in the area to meet this extra projected growth and cater for 1,515 school-going primary school children.

Pale Horizon, the owner of a land bank of 40.7 hectares (100 acres) in South Ardaun – headed up by Galway developers Tim Lee McDonagh, Ronan Daly and Paul Kelly – welcomed changes to the rezoning over two hectares of land – changing one parcel under overhead powerlines from residential to recreational and the second plot to the east of land earmarked for community and educational use to residential.

The developers also welcomed the change to increase from 70% to 80% the amount of land in the urban village centre zoning that can be dedicated to residential use.

Both the TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) and the NTA (National Transport Authority) called on the Council to incorporate an ‘area based transport assessment’ into the plan once it was completed, revising it later if necessary.

Senior planner in Galway City Council Caroline Phelan said the local authority was currently preparing a report summarising the observations and outlining the planners’ recommendations.

The final decision on the plan rests with councillors, who will vote on its adoption or rejection at the April 9 meeting.

“The only area open for consideration now are the material alterations – the rest of the plan has been deemed acceptable and cannot be revisited in April,” remarked Ms Phelan.

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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