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.
Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.
The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.
“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.
He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.
Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.
The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.
‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.
Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.
Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.
He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.
“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.
“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.
In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.
Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.
Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
BY ANDREW HAMILTON
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.
Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.
The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.
Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.
Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.
Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.
Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.