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Connacht Tribune

Developer told that fast-track housing plan requires higher density

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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

Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised

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Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.

A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.

Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.

Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.

Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.

He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .

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Connacht Tribune

Anger over ANC ‘snip’

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Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue

ANGRY farmers hit out during last week’s Galway IFA at the Dept. of Agriculture over what they described as their ‘heavy handed tactics’ in docking BEAM penalties from ANC payments made last week.

Although Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has apologised for the actions taken by his Department officials, delegates who attended last Thursday’s night county IFA meeting in the Claregalway Hotel, hit out at what happened.

In some cases, according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, farmers who had already paid back the BEAM penalty also had the money deducted from their ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments made last week.

Many farmers received ‘a shock in the post’ when their ANC payments were hit with the deductions of penalties from the BEAM scheme – earlier they had been warned of interest penalties if any balances weren’t repaid within 30 days.

At the core of the problem was the inclusion of a 5% stock numbers reduction in the BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) aimed at helping to compensate farmers for a drop-off in beef prices between September, 2018 and May, 2019.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Siblings find each other – and their Connemara roots – after 80 years

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Reunited...Pat and Miceál McKeown outside their mother Síle’s birthplace in Carna.

By Erin Gibbons

A family separated for over 80 years was reunited at the end of an emotional journey in Connemara last weekend – thanks to DNA testing and the expert help of heritage researchers.

Pat McKeown, who lives in Staffordshire in the UK, is the daughter of Síle Gorham from Roisín Na Mainiach, Carna – but she was given up for adoption and reared for a time in a Belfast Mother and Baby Home.

Now, at the age of 81, she found her roots – returning to her mother’s native place for the first time last weekend, in the company of her long-lost brother Micheál.

It was an emotional end to a lifelong search for her roots that even led her to hire a private detective to try and locate her family and to discover her name.

All of this proved unsuccessful – and she had effectively given up her search when she was contacted unexpectedly by a man called Miceál McKeown, who turned out to be her brother.

Micheál – an artist and sculptor – and his daughter Orla had made the connection through DNA testing, after Miceál too had set out to discover more about his own roots.

That revealed that Síle Gorham had married Michael McKeown in 1939, and Síle went on to have three more children named Áine, Séan and Miceál.

Pat visited Connemara last weekend for the first time to learn about her mother Síle and the Connemara ancestry which she feels was robbed from her for her entire 81 years.

She was accompanied by Miceál, his wife Rosemary, daughter Orla and son-in-law Rueben Keogh.

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

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