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Connacht Tribune

Developer told that fast-track housing plan requires higher density

Enda Cunningham

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An Bord Pleanála has rejected a proposal for more than 110 homes on a site in Bearna under new fast-track planning legislation – telling the developer there should be up to 200 homes on the site.

Burkeway Homes sought permission to develop 113 homes on an 18-acre site on the Bearna-Moycullen Road under new ‘Strategic Housing Development’ regulations which came into law last year and is aimed at tackling the housing crisis.

In its decision to refuse planning permission, the Board said the proposal would not develop the land at Truskey East (adjoining the Heather Hill/Cnoc Fraoigh estate) at sufficiently high density.

Developer Michael Burke told the Connacht Tribune his design team is already working on a new proposal and he intends to lodge a new application with the Board in the next few weeks, with hopes construction can begin this summer, creating up to 150 jobs.

“The team at Burkeway Homes was scheduled to commence on the Truskey East site in early spring. While the An Bord Pleanála decision will delay this somewhat, it does provide the opportunity for us to bring to the market a greater number and variety of quality homes on this fantastic site.

“Since we received the planning decision, we have been busy working with our architects on a revised scheme incorporating the feedback from the An Bord Pleanála decision. We intend to lodge a resubmission again under the Strategic Housing Development process in the coming weeks.

“On this basis, we are confident that we will be in a position to start work on site in late summer with a Phase 1 launch of the development before the end of the year,” said Mr Burke.

The original application was for 46 detached homes, 64 semi-detached and two terraced units (72 four-bed homes, 33 three-bed and 8 two-bed), and six pedestrian link bridges, with a pedestrian route to Bearna village.

Third party submissions on the application raised concerns about excessive scale and density, inadequate facilities to cater for additional population, and whether there is a need for such a volume of new homes in Bearna, given the 10.3% area vacancy rate recorded in Census 2016.

Residents in the adjoining estate also raised concerns about increased traffic, an inadequate road network and a history of flooding on the site.

Galway County Council submitted that it was “favourably disposed to a grant pf permission”, but said conditions should be attached, including a stipulation that a minimum of 20% of the homes should be restricted for Irish speakers.

In its decision to refuse permission, the Board wrote: “The site of the proposed development is on serviceable lands, within the development boundary of Bearna, in an area earmarked for Phase 1 residential development and within the Galway Metropolitan Area.

“Having regard to the proposed density of development, it is considered that the proposed development would not be developed at a sufficiently high density to provide for an acceptable efficiency in serviceable land usage given the proximity of the site to the built-up area of Bearna and Galway City and to the established social and community services in the immediate vicinity.

“In addition, the proposed development does not have an adequate mix of dwelling types, being predominantly semi-detached and detached housing.

“It is considered that the low density proposed would be contrary to these aforementioned Ministerial Guidelines, which indicate that net densities less than 30 dwellings per hectare should generally be discouraged in the interests of land efficiency.

“The proposed development would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area,” the Board wrote.

The Burkeway proposal is understood to have been the first such ‘fast-track’ planning application outside of Dublin. The legislation can be used by a developer planning 100 or more houses or for student accommodation with more than 200 bed spaces (where the land is appropriately zoned).

Connacht Tribune

Student nurses face all the risk – for no reward

Dara Bradley

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Working on the children’s ward of a busy hospital during a global pandemic is no joke; less funny still when you’re not getting paid for your toil.

All the risk and none of the rewards of qualified staff – that’s the lot of Edel Moore, a student nurse who is currently on placement at University Hospital Galway.

Edel, and hundreds of student nurses like her on placement in UHG and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, want more than a round of applause and platitudes from Government.

“None of us want a pat on the back for struggling. We’d just like to be recognised,” she said.

“The Government are full-time talking about front-line workers, and they want to give them a ‘clap hands’. Then you see Junior Ministers getting massive raises. For what? What have they done for us, the student nurses, that they’re getting a €16,000 wage increase?

“We’ve put ourselves through a four year degree but all I’m worth is a clap? Thanks! It’s ridiculous. They say that front-line workers deserve all the help they can get but it just seems that the ones who are able to give us the help we need are not going to give us the help that we deserve.”

Edel Moore is a mature student originally from Westmeath but living in Leitir Mealláin in Connemara with her husband and three children.

A third year student nurse of NUIG, she is currently on placement at the paediatric ward at UHG.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Island museum gets the green light

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the proposed Inishbofin museum.

Work is expected to begin shortly on the construction of a museum on Inishbofin after planners gave the green light to the project.

The museum at Middlequarter is being developed by local historian and photographer Marie Coyne – and when completed, it will be home to items of historical significance from both Inishbofin and Inishark.

There is an existing museum on the island but it is too small to house the amount of artefacts, photographs and family histories that have been assembled over the years.

The new building will also include a photographic exhibition room, restoration workshop along with a gift shop and coffee dock. It is proposed that the new 3,400 square feet museum will be built on a site at the rear of Ms Coyne’s home.

Eamon Gavin of Eamon Gavin Architects based in Cornamona told the Connacht Tribune that this was an important project for the island and it was a welcome decision.

And he said that the green light would kickstart the process of conserving the vast and unique artefacts and archives built up over the years.

“As a practice, we have a long history of dealing with planning consultancy on unique rural sites in Connemara and the islands, therefore we fully understood how sensitive the proposed location of the project would be – the site is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and National Heritage Area,” he said.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Tuam woman a picture of health a year after Covid crisis

Declan Tierney

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Tuam's Kitty Farrell with her dog Lulu a year after her Covid diagnosis.

Last year was a Mother’s Day like no other for Kitty Farrell who spent it in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital with Covid – but the 80 year old Tuam woman can look forward to a more sedate celebration this time out….thankfully restored back to full health.

Kitty, from Ballygaddy Road, had developed a debilitating cough the previous week – and when she was admitted to UHG on Mother’s Day, she tested positive for the coronavirus despite a lack of symptoms.

The retired businesswoman spent the next nine days seriously ill in isolation – and all alone as her four children could not visit her.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come through it but I was so sick that at times, it didn’t really matter. But the thought of passing away in isolation made a bad situation even worse,” Kitty said at the time.

A year on, she is back to full health, and while she restricts her movements, Kitty told The Connacht Tribune that she is just happy to be alive and she spends her days ‘pottering about’ and looking forward to the arrival of family members.

“Even though I don’t particularly agree with the current lockdown because everyone should be responsible for their own behaviour, I am living a life of relative isolation at the moment,” she said.

Read Kitty’s full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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