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Excavation work begins on new €2m supermarket

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Excavation work has begun on the site of the new €2 million Aldi supermarket in Knocknacarra, with the store expected to open at the end of the year.

Site clearance and groundworks on the 1.6 acre site off the Western Distributor Road began in recent weeks, and around 25 people are expected to be employed when construction work begins.

Under the construction model used by the German supermarket giant, the new store should be up-and-running within six months and 25 full-time jobs will be created.

Last November, the Planning Appeals Board ignored the recommendations of one of its own senior inspectors and gave the go-ahead for the new 1,540 square metre single-storey supermarket and off licence, as well as more than 90 parking space.

The site is located between the Distributor Road and Millar’s Hall – which houses Monkey Business and Pure Skill, and will be accessed via the unnamed link road which links Bóthar Stiofáin and the ‘Galway Gateway’ retail park, known locally as Knocknacarra Shopping Centre or Galway West Retail Park.

Pedestrian access will be from the link road and from the Distributor Road.

Last year, RGDATA – the group which represents small, family-owned businesses – appealed the City Council’s grant of permission for the development on the grounds that retailing needs are already adequately serviced in the area and that it would adversely impact on the vitality and viability of the city centre as well as existing nearby outlets.

In his report to An Bord Pleanála, Senior Planning Inspector Robert Ryan said the building would represent a “poor quality form of development”.

“It is considered that the proposed development, by reason of its horizontal design emphasis, low scale, density and poor linkage when taken together with the creation of a large surface parking area, would represent a poor quality form of development in terms of visual amenity of property in the vicinity,” said Mr Ryan.

However, the Board over-ruled him, saying: “The height and design of the proposed retail unit would be acceptable within the context of a largely two-storey residential hinterland.”

Planners ordered that the store can only operate between 9am and 9pm on Monday to Saturday and 10am to 7pm on Sundays.

Any 24-hour operations are restricted by planning condition to four weeks of each calendar year and for times close to Christmas and Easter.

Restrictions are also in place on construction hours, and any potential rock-breaking that may be required. Construction can only take place between 8am and 6pm on Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday. Rock-breaking schedules must be agreed with the Council in writing.

Permission previously existed on the site for a five-storey block with supermarket, offices and primary healthcare centre.

However, Aldi admitted the plans were unviable as it could not find a tenant for the medical facility and subsequently scaled back the plans to what is currently being built.

CITY TRIBUNE

Publicans in antigen plea to Government

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Johnny Duggan of the Vintners Association: Antigen tests could help minimise restrictions at times when Covid is circulating widely.

Galway publicans are pleading with Government to pilot an antigen test scheme in the city in January – a move that could rescue the local hospitality sector.

Galway City Vintners have proposed the introduction of a pilot scheme in city centre pubs in January, which if successful, could allow the sector to re-open with minimum restrictions, even when the Covid-19 is rampant.

Government Ministers and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are divided on the efficacy of antigen tests, which give rapid results that are less reliable than PCR tests.

But publicans believe asking customers to produce a negative antigen test result – as well as their Covid-19 certificates – to get served in pubs, this could help save the hospitality sector by reducing the need for social distancing inside venues.

They don’t believe it would be necessary all-year-round, but could be useful in keeping hospitality open with minimum restrictions during weeks when Covid is circulating widely in the community.

They said it would allow the safe return of drinking at bar counters, dancing in venues, and extended opening hours. Currently pubs, even late bars, must close at 11.3pm instead of 2.30am.

Galway City Vintners expect Covid will continue in waves and this proposal is an attempt to be proactive to keep their businesses, the sector – and socialising in pubs – afloat, according to spokesman Johnny Duggan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Rehearsals in full swing for pantos at Town Hall and An Taibhdhearc

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Jeacaí agus an Fathach Mór Dána’ will be performed at An Taibhdhearc.Photo: Boyd Challenger.

Galway’s two pantomimes are still forging full steam ahead amid advice for parents to limit children socialising indoors as Covid infection rates among unvaccinated youths continue to soar.

A concert featuring Julie Feeney and Ultan Conlon at the Town Hall Theatre planned for last night as well as gigs with comedian Eilish O’Carroll and folk singer Seán Keane have been deferred to March due to sluggish sales following a plea by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to limit social contacts.

Manager Fergal McGrath said sales up until a fortnight ago were very healthy and they have been very happy with the success of gigs with Billy Bragg, the Villagers and Kojaque in November with near full capacity and without incident.

“We’ve had some people cancel but nowhere near the figure in other venues,” he remarked.

“We relaxed our refunds policy and have maintained a very strict adherence to the guidelines checking vaccination certs, IDs, having space out queues and insisting that people wear masks. We closed the bar in the Town Hall as there wasn’t enough space to accommodate all patrons. In the Black Box, we operated a click and collect system and erected a marquee outside for people to drink.

“We have very receptive audiences, there is an absolute willingness to wear the masks that a year ago may not have been accepted. People were thanking us in the Black Box for still being able to get out. A member of the advisory team for NEPHET was at one of the shows and was very impressed with how we managed everything. It’s not been an easy few months, but we’ve figured out how to get through this and implement all the guidelines.”

Cinderella, this year’s Renmore Pantomime, is still expected to be staged from December 29 to January 9. The Town Hall made an early decision to reduce capacity to 60 per cent, which has proved fateful as around that level of tickets have now been sold.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Sweeping changes on way to fight congestion

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Traffic on the Headford Road approaching the junction close to Galway Shopping Centre.

A parking levy on workers; reduced public parking in the city centre; an end to additional road infrastructure; and reduced speed limits are all part of a new government plan to tackle congestion in the city.

In the Departments of Transport’s Demand Management Strategy, sweeping measures are proposed to reduce the number of cars on city roads – caveated with a warning that proper alternatives are required before significant changes are implemented.

Among the measures proposed is a levy on workplace parking spaces – a move the report suggests would cut by 5% the number of cars on Galway roads.

It is outlined that Nottingham was the first European city to introduce such a measure and proposes that a similar approach should be taken here whereby all monies raised by the levy are invested into public transport improvements.

The levy, it is claimed, would influence decisions to travel by car; reduce the space taken up by parked cars; and reduce costly parking infrastructure in new developments.

An attempted move towards this in 2008, which levied employers €200 for workplace parking spaces was fiercely resisted and ultimately collapsed.

However, the report concludes that it merits consideration – particularly for Galway where it deduces that congestion charges are not appropriate.

Elsewhere in the report, it is proposed that an up to 300% increase in the cost of on-street parking, in conjunction with an up to 50% cull of the space used for stationary cars, could result in a further reduction in congestion.

This measure, which is identified as a ‘relatively high priority’ for Galway, should form part of an overall strategy to remove on-street public parking spaces, including some residential parking permits, it states.

The report could spell bad news for the Government attitude towards funding the Galway City Ring Road –  on which an Bord Pleanála is due to give its decision by the end of this month.

The findings include an assertion that additional road infrastructure does not solve the issue of congestion – it could actually worsen the situation.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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