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Draft plan outlines new neighbourhood park for Knocknacarra

Dara Bradley



The broad outline of a new neighbourhood park to serve Knocknacarra has been unveiled by Galway City Council.

A draft framework plan for Kingston recreation and amenity lands was published this week following an extensive public consultation process.

The plan, in its conclusion, says it “makes sense” to explore linking the existing facilities at Millar’s Lane to the development of new facilities at lands at Kingston – adjacent to St John the Apostle National School.

The plan includes huge input from local sports groups, community organisations, residents’ associations, and individuals.

The lack of public parks and open spaces in Knocknacarra caused “great frustration” for a large number of people who gave feedback.

There was a “general feeling of being victims of poor planning . . . alongside a fear that the proposed project may take too long to happen for a generation of children,” according to the draft plan.

“A large number of submissions received highlighted the desire to see an open space facility accessible to all members of the community,” it states.

The draft plan says a large number of submissions highlighted the need for Knocknacarra National School to have access to the proposed park and sports facilities.

Many residents are unhappy.

Kingston Gardens Residents’ group were not opposed to the development but had “serious concerns” around access to it, parking and traffic.

Whiteoaks Residents’ Association had “strong objections” to access to the lands through an existing gate, which has been subject to ongoing legal action, the report states. Clybaun Court residents submitted a “strong objection” to accessing the Kingston lands through their estate.

Gort Siar Residents’ Association emphasised the need for a “mixed-use recreational facility” as part of a proper plan for the entire area.

Gleann na Coille want the facility to cater for children, taking into account the growing population of Knocknacarra.

A number of submissions, including from Galway Hockey Club, outlined the need for a shared surface suited to hockey due to an “acute citywide under-provision of hockey facilities” compared with other sports.

Barna Knocknacarra Rugby Club outlined an “urgent need” for a suitable facility to host mini rugby.

The lack of pitch provision for rugby within the city was highlighted compared to the “wealth of provision of GAA and soccer facilities”.

“The absence of changing and toilet facilities in McGrath’s Field is a particular issue for the continuation of girls’ participation in the sport, while the limitation of space is preventing the club expanding to meet demand and potential,” the report said.

Salthill Knocknacarra GAA made a submission emphasising “how bereft the locality is of public parks and the importance of retaining and developing lands as community park”.

Knocknacarra AFC welcomed the proposal for a park and sports facilities but also looked for “improved communication” with the Council over Cappagh Park.

Galway Archers made a submission highlighting a for indoor and outdoor facilities; and Galway Orienteers outlined a desire for the development “to be suitable for orienteering incorporating suitable control sites.”

Other submissions called for a biking track and trail, a handball alley, a walking and running track, a sensory garden, bowling and boules.

Galway St Patrick’s scout group outlined how it offers a constructive alternative for children not suited to sports and made suggestions based on its need for an indoor and outdoor facility.

The public consultation process, according to the report, has confirmed a “clear deficit of provision” of facilities for many sports, most notably hockey and rugby.

“The public consultation has highlighted the flexibility and willingness of sports clubs to enter into shared provision arrangements if required, however the differing surface requirements for various sports means this may not always be feasible,” the report notes.

The Kingston lands undoubtedly hold the potential to meet a significant level of demand, it “makes sense to explore the idea of expanding the parameters of this project to examine the potential synergies between the Kingston lands and the nearby Millar’s Lane facilities.”


Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
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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Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
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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