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CITY TRIBUNE

Independent grocers’ group objects to Lidl Knocknacarra plans

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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

Six Shinners to contest Galway City local elections in 2024

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Sinn Féin is planning to run two candidates in each city electoral ward in the next Local Elections in 2024.

Party number-crunchers nationally want to flood local election tickets with candidates to pick up extra seats and capitalise on anti-Government sentiment that is circulating among a cohort of voters.

The Shinners ran too few candidates in the last General Election. It meant they could not capitalise fully from a swing to the party during that campaign. They left seats behind them.

Now they’re planning to run a record number of candidates. In Galway, that would mean two candidates in each of the three areas, City West, City Central and City East.

The thinking is that they need to pick up additional seats in local authority elections, so that they have sufficient councillors to vote for Sinn Féin candidates in Seanad elections. More councillors equals more senators.

Sinn Féin is very much preparing for Government; and while the polls suggest it’s the most popular party (at 34% according to the latest in the Sunday Times last weekend) and would likely win most Dáil seats if an election was held tomorrow, it would still need numbers in the Seanad to pass legislation.

One problem faced by Sinn Féin is the party might find it difficult to source six credible candidates to contest local elections in Galway.

Another problem with running two, rather than one, in each ward in Galway City is that SF could split the vote and end up not winning any seats at all.

In 2019, Councillors Mairéad Farrell, Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir all lost their seats after dismal local elections. Farrell was since elected to the Dáil following her Lazarus comeback but the organisation locally is still wary of a fickle Galway electorate.

If Sinn Féin doesn’t win back those three seats lost in 2019, then the next locals would be deemed a massive failure.

Winning more than three seats on Galway City Council would be a success but are the Shinners willing to risk running two candidates in each ward, splitting the vote and ending up with egg on their faces?

Photo: Mairéad Farrell with fellow Sinn Féin members Mark Lohan and Cathal Ó Conchúir (back left) after she was elected to the Dáil in 2020. All lost had their seats in Galway City Council in 2019 after dismal local elections.


This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.


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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway is seventh-worst city in Europe for car traffic congestion

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Car traffic congestion in Galway is quickly rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, with commuters spending up to 94 hours caught on the city’s gridlocked arteries last year.

According to data compiled by INRIX, a world-leader in mobility data, Galway is the seventh-worst city in Europe for congestion, an 84% increase on its position in 2021.

The data shows that Galway places in the worst 50 cities in the world for congestion – taking 39th place, with Dublin the only other Irish city placing higher at Number 12.

While the figures show that car traffic has not fully returned to pre-Covid levels, the 2022 figures came within 13% of 2019 congestion rates.

This was despite vast numbers continuing to work from home last year, a worrying trend according to the local People Before Profit representative Adrian Curran.

In Cork, Limerick and Dublin, there had been a more lasting effect, showing decreases of 20%, 26% and 29% respectively, he said.


This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway 2020 paid €110,000 for PR while cutting spends on arts events

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From this week’s City Tribune – Galway 2020’s bank account statements for five months of 2020 reveal thousands of euro were spent on public relations firms and media advertising when its cultural programme was being cut and ‘revised’ during the upheaval at the onset of Covid-19.

The AIB statements date from April to September of 2020, when Covid-19 had seriously curtailed cultural activities of Galway 2020, the company behind the city and county’s European Capital of Culture. They show more than €110,000 was paid to Dublin-based public relations firm Q4 PR, in three separate payments in April, May and June of 2020.

Thousands more were paid to other public relations firms, radio stations and, to a lesser extent, newspapers.

In March of that year, Galway 2020 announced it was reviewing its programme of events due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Government after a global pandemic was declared, curtailing all events.

On April 7, it confirmed it was laying off staff and had ended its agreement with Helen Marriage and Artichoke which was providing creative direction.

Later that month, it issued statements to say it was exploring a ‘re-imagined’ programme of events to take place at the end of 2020 and 2021.

Although the amounts paid to media and PR companies other than Q4 PR are relatively small, compared with expenditure on other headings, the payments suggest the importance Galway 2020 placed on image and public perception around that time.

The bank statements were released to the Galway City Tribune following a protracted Freedom of Information request and after an appeal to the Office of Information Commissioner.

Many of the payees in the bank statements were redacted but the names of several PR and media organisations are listed as having been paid by Galway 2020.


This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article with details of the spending, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. There is also coverage of this week’s rebranding and new vision of Galway 2020. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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