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CITY TRIBUNE

Independent grocers’ group objects to Lidl Knocknacarra plans

Enda Cunningham

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The representative group for small grocers, RGDATA, has objected to plans for a new Lidl supermarket in Knocknacarra, claiming it poses a threat to the future vitality of Galway City centre and existing shopping centres.

And while rival supermarket chain Tesco voiced approval in principle for the development, they said an amended design could improve the streetscape.

At the beginning of July, Lidl sought permission to develop a €2.5 million supermarket and standalone café at the corner of Bóthar Stiofáin and the Western Distributor Road, on a greenfield site right beside their rivals Aldi.

The plan is for a single-storey foodstore with an off-licence over a gross floor area of 2,185 square metre, with net retail space of 1,387 sq m on the 1.5-acre site and a free-standing single-storey café measuring 66.5 sq m on the overall site.

It is Lidl’s third attempt in six years to open a premises in Knocknacarra – two previous applications on a site at the junction of the Ballymoneen Road with the Distributor Road were rejected by An Bórd Pleanála.

RGDATA, which represents family-owned independent grocery stores – which objected to the previous Lidl applications – has objected to the last one also.

It says there is no justification for an additional discount foodstore on the western side of the city, and that it would be premature until a sustainable mix of uses is provided within what is zoned as the Knocknacarra District Centre, arguing that it is dominated with retail units.

The representative group added that the prime site had the opportunity for a high-quality ‘book end’ entrance design, but “instead, an elongated single-storey standalone retail ‘box’ is provided, which is substandard and monolithic in appearance”, comparing it to a “commercial warehouse”.

The objectors argue that 86 parking spaces are proposed, but the City Development Plan requires 150 spaces, which would lead to haphazard parking behaviour in the vicinity of the site, along the adjoining public roads and residential estates.

The submission adds that delivery trucks would have to reverse towards the entrance, creating a traffic hazard.

The Tesco submission reads: “[Tesco] welcomes investment in Galway as the city continues to grow and notes that the proposed development is permitted in principle on the subject lands. It is important that as the city develops, convenience retail services and competition is increased.

“It is, however, important that as the city develops, a positive and attractive urban environment is created. In this regard the design of the proposed development could be improved by undertaking slight amendments to the design/layout.

“The proposed design of the store will create a blank street elevation on the Western Distributor Road, which would not be in the best interests of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

“Whilst the proposal is permissible in principle and could contribute to this area of Galway City, an amended design/layout could improve the streetscape, enhance the pedestrian environment of the area and integrate more effectively with future developments, particularly on lands to the south of the site,” the submission reads.

If permitted, the new development would be completed by April 2020 and employ between 20 and 25 people.

City planners have told Lidl to revise the design of the southern side of the building facing onto the Western Distributor Road, including an additional glazed area, and have sought clarification on the opening hours of the café. They have also ordered changes to the site layout to accommodate pedestrian movement.

CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call in the clampers to sort problem parking

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in a Salthill estate have become tired of illegal parking outside their homes – and hired private clampers as a deterrent.

People living in Seamount off Threadneedle Road near Blackrock said they have been plagued by extra traffic and vehicles parking outside their homes, blocking access, during the latest Covid lockdown.

They said that since Galway City Council closed off the Prom to car parking, and closed the two public carparks, the cars have just migrated to Threadneedle Road and their estate.

Seamount is a private estate and the road has not been taken in charge by the Council. The residents have clubbed together and hired a clamping company, which will erect signs in the coming days and begin clamping illegally parked cars from next week.

Residents said they are also concerned that cars parked on Threadneedle Road are making it more difficult for buses to pass, and cause congestion.

A residents’ spokesperson said: “Since the lockdown, they closed off the Prom and closed off Salthill car park but people are still using the Prom and swimming off Blackrock. I have huge admiration for the swimmers, I do it myself when it’s warmer. But what’s happening is they park on both sides of Threadneedle Road, because there’re no yellow lines on either side of it and it’s not wide enough for cars to be parked either side of it, so buses are getting stuck.”
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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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG President’s upset at Covid breaches on campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – “I work in the hospital and we have had a really awful six weeks. We have nowhere to sit down and have our breaks. We are exhausted and would long to see family and friends. To see public health guidelines [being flouted] on NUIG property is a kick in the teeth.”

These are the words of an angry and frustrated healthcare worker at University Hospital Galway in a message sent to the head of NUIG.

President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh told students and staff at the university this week that he found it “deeply frustrating” that some students were flouting public health guidelines.

The HSE has confirmed that there were at least 441 cases of Covid in the city’s 18-24 age group – which has affected 224 households – in the past three weeks.

“Our neighbours contacted me expressing their upset at what they see as activities by our students that do not respect the health and safety of the community at large. People who work in the health service, people who have lost friends and relations to Covid-19. I share their upset.

“I was struck, for example, by one particularly heartfelt message from a local healthcare worker and campus user who shared their frustration with me last week on seeing groups congregating and socialising on campus grounds and which they agreed we could share,” Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said.

The head of the university shared the message in an email to students and staff this week, adding that students had expressed frustration that study spaces were not open on campus and at the challenges posed by the constricted spaces in which they study.

NUIG confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it had imposed sanctions on a number of students in relation to Covid breaches, while there have been none at GMIT.
This is a brief 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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CITY TRIBUNE

Principals band together for safer cycling infrastructure

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A total of 28 Galway City school principals have signed an open letter to the Minister for Transport and local councillors highlighting the need for safer cycling infrastructure around schools, to encourage students and staff to switch to bikes.

The push by Government to cycle or walk where possible during the pandemic has its limitations in a city where cycle lanes are rare and parents are too afraid to let their children cycle on narrow roads often choked with traffic.

A group of cycling enthusiasts in city schools has been campaigning to encourage the school community to engage with Galway City Council’s public consultation process for the next development plan which will have a key role in deciding whether cycling lanes or off-road cycle routes become a reality.

The first stage of the initial consultation process for the ‘City Development Plan 2023-2029, Your City, Your Future’ closes today (Friday). But the process will continue for two more years with more consultation encouraged once the draft plan is published.

This week a letter from 28 principals sent to councillors called for support for the provision of better cycle infrastructure in and around all schools. It has also been sent to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Galway West TD and Minister of State at Cabinet, Hildegarde Naughton.

“It is our view that existing road infrastructure around schools can be unsafe for children, teachers, and families who wish to cycle to school and we would like to encourage the development safe cycling routes in the future,” the letter states.

Principal of Coláiste na Coiribe, Eoghan Ó Ceallaigh, said it was important for the school community to get involved with the public consultation.

(Photo: Last year, the Council introduced a ‘School Streets’ pilot scheme at Scoil Iognáid, which bans cans during certain times, encouraging parents and children to walk or cycle. Schools now want proper cycling infrastructure put in place).
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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