A €1 billion city centre redevelopment plan for more than 14 acres of land around Ceannt Station is back on the cards.
One of the country’s best-known developers, Galwayman Gerry Barrett, said he firmly believes the CIE lands will come up for sale within the next 12 months, as a result of his ‘Bonham Quay’ planning application for a €100 million office development at the adjoining former ‘Topaz’ oil tanks site at the Docks.
He told the Galway City Tribune that his plans will “kick off” the CIE land plan again, as well as the ‘Forty Acres’ site at the Docks, which he believes would be ideal for residential development.
Meanwhile, the IDA said an up-to-date masterplan for the CIE lands needs to be drawn up urgently.
Mr Barrett said: “If this [Bonham Quay] is successful, it will kick off the harbour. What this will do is kick off the CIE lands again. I have no doubt they’ll come up for sale in the next twelve months because of this.”
He said the so-called ‘Forty Acres’ at Galway Harbour Enterprise Park would be a prime location for residential development, while there should also be some residential element to any redevelopment of the CIE site.
Catherina Blewitt, the IDA’s West Regional Manager – who has a background in urban planning and development – said the agency is “very supportive” of the City Council’s new City Development Plan, which recognises the importance of the CIE land and Inner Harbour in “reinforcing the prime role of the city centre in both Galway City and the Gateway region”.
She said it is hugely important to have the right mix of uses for any development to create the right “living space”, and said an up-to-date masterplan needs to be drawn up urgently.
In 2009, Mr Barrett was confirmed as the preferred partner-developer of an €800 million ‘New Galway’ on Ceannt Station, which would be built in phases over ten years.
It was to include 600,000 square feet of retail space, more than 200 residential units, bars, cafés, restaurants and cultural space.
However, the project was shelved in 2012 because of the collapse of the economy.
For the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.
Mercedes on track to fulfil promise to drive down fuel figures
This week’s test car has become this month’s test car because most car distributors have shut up shop as per Government orders and I’m left with the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake until everything is up and running again.
For this I’m extremely grateful to Motor Distributors Ltd (MDL) – Mercedes distributors in Ireland – for allowing me to hold on to this eye-catching car.
Those with an eye for style will understand why Mercedes-Benz has produced the CLA Shooting Brake. Those with a practical persuasion might ridicule it, but a closer look might just challenge that position.
You see, some of the dimensions give a lie to any thoughts of this car being too sleek and too low to be a proper estate. It actually has more space in the boot than their own C-Class estate, and more headroom than the C-Class coupe.
As for the car itself, apart from the ultra-stylish, sleek exterior and the classy interior, this car, like many other cars in the Mercedes brochure, has one outstanding highlight: astonishing fuel consumption.
About six years ago, Mercedes bosses told us that they were on a mission to drive down fuel figures and to clean up their diesel engines beyond anything that was around back then. Right now, they are well into that target and this car is testament to that.
So far I have travelled around 500 kilometres, with 680 kilometres still left in the tank. My current rate of consumption is reading at 4.3L/100km which has been achieved without breaking any limits and driving, for the most part, in ECO or Comfort mode.
CO2 emissions are calculated at 108g/km which gives you an annual road tax bill of €190. These are impressive figures and imply that diesel can still have a significant role to play in the future of motoring.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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New Covid-19 assessment clinic at Merlin Park
The HSE is opening a new assessment clinic at Merlin Park Hospital this week for Covid-19 patients who are showing mild symptoms.
The Community Assessment Hub is for patients who are confirmed Covid-19 positive and who require face-to-face clinical assessment.
Appointments for the seven day service (8am-8pm) are through GP referral only and walk-ins are not permitted.
A HSE spokesperson said the idea behind the hub is to keep mildly symptomatic patients away from the acute hospital system.
“The aim of the hubs is to divert mildly symptomatic patients who require medical assessment away from the acute hospital system by providing a facility in the community where patients can be seen, and clinically assessed by a team of nurses, doctors and physiotherapists,” the spokesperson said.
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Redundancies are not on the cards for Galway City Council workers
Redundancies at Galway City Council as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have been ruled out by Chief Executive Brendan McGrath.
The local authority has imposed a temporary ban on recruitment, but is not planning to lay off any of its 520-strong workforce.
Mr McGrath said that down the road, if this crisis continues for a prolonged period, replacing staff who retire may not be possible. But for now, Council workers are ‘flat out’ maintaining essential services across a range of departments.
“No, we’re not planning that (lay offs). We will endeavour to keep our workforce fully employed. We’ve built up our team since the recession, a lot of our team and the additional bodies we’ve taken on are related to specific projects, for which there was various forms of grant aid available so I think we’d be confident that we will try to be able to retain the entire staff resource,” he said.
Nearly 150 members of staff have been set up to work from home, thanks to the ICT Department at City Hall.
Outdoor staff, and other office staff who must be at City Hall, are observing social distancing guidelines. Offices that used to be packed with people now have one or two workers, spaced in accordance with the guidelines.
As with the private sector, there have been changes to the ‘normal’ working week for Council staff, and some have been redeployed to other areas.
The Council has a statutory obligation to maintain essential services.
“Essential services are anything to do with homelessness; urgent housing repairs like plumbing and electrical; work on houses that were nearly complete to bring back into beneficial use and to bring back into use for self-isolation; public lighting is essential; burst water mains; maintaining traffic lights for road safety; and anything to do with water supply and waste water and treating effluent,” said Mr McGrath.
Street cleaning is classed as ‘necessary but not absolutely essential’, and is a slightly lower category than ‘essential services’.
The rota for street cleaning has been cut back to a number of times a week rather than every day, and this reflects the quieter streets due to people staying at home.
The city’s burial grounds are closed, but graves still need to be opened, and the Planning Department continues to operate.