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Lack of transport options sinks Galway City social housing and Traveller homes plan


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Lack of transport options sinks Galway City social housing and Traveller homes plan Lack of transport options sinks Galway City social housing and Traveller homes plan

From the Galway City Tribune – An Bord Pleanála has rejected plans for a social housing scheme in Castlegar – citing the lack of pedestrian, cycle and bus connections at the site.

Last July, Galway City Council applied directly to the higher planning authority for permission to build three Traveller-appropriate houses and 21 apartments on the Headford Road in a mixture of two and three-storey buildings on what is currently a 2.2-acre field immediately north of U-hire van hire business.

The three-storey apartment block plan included 3 one-bed, 14 two-bed and 4 three-bed units, and there were 3 four-bed ‘Traveller Appropriate Accommodation’ units in the proposals.

There was also parking for 39 cars and 10 sheltered bike spaces proposed for the courtyard of the apartment building.

“The design of the own-door access to ground floor units with large protected terraces will also accommodate safe storage of bicycles,” the application reads.

It also noted that the site is an eight-minute walk from the 407 bus stop at Bóthar an Choiste and “is remote from neighbourhood/community services”.

“The proposal includes a range of informal spaces to cater for all age groups including seating areas, walking loops, a play area, and a large kick-about area. The landscaping and public open space will contribute to creating a safe, secure and enjoyable environment for all users. The landscape proposal has been reviewed with Galway City Council Parks Department, and GCC criteria for the design of open space and specification preferences and maintenance requirements have been incorporated into the proposal.

“The Traveller appropriate accommodation element of the project has been informed by consultation between GCC Housing Department and Traveller representatives.

“The key concerns of the Traveller representatives identified through this consultation process were in relation to achieving a sense of community and a sense of security/privacy. The location of the houses on the site responds to these concerns.

“The three houses are located together in a row to the south-west of the site, facing the main entrance. The houses are clearly distinct from the social housing apartment building, while also a part of the overall development. The aim of this is to retain a sense of community among the group and reduce the potential impact of relocating to an unfamiliar location, such as isolation or loss of identity.

“The houses are detached, and back gardens are facing onto the excavated soil and rock face to the west of the site. This is the preference of the group as alleviates the concerns in relation to security, privacy and overlooking which would occur in a back-to-back arrangement.

“A concrete retaining wall is required for the excavations, and this is tall enough to prevent climbing to the upper part of the slope. A hard-standing area within the curtilage of each house will facilitate a car, van and horse-box for each house,” the application reads.

A Natura Impact Statement included with the plans found there were potentially significant effects identified for the Lough Corrib and Galway Bay Complex SACs (Special Areas of Conservation) and the Lough Corrib and Inner Galway Bay SPAs (Special Protection Areas), there were a range of mitigation and avoidance measures suggested to offset them.

“It has been concluded that . . . the proposed development will have no adverse effects on the [on those areas],” the report found.

There were five submissions on the application, with issues raised relating to the site being “at a remove” from local amenities, therefore there reduced active travel options for residents.

Issues were also highlighted around the lack of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure on that section of the Headford Road and there being high incidents of collisions.

High traffic volumes, lack of public transport, lack of footpaths, noise pollution, road safety, crime and anti-social behaviour were also highlighted in submissions to An Bord Pleanála.

The Board ruled: “Notwithstanding the residential zoning objective for the site, it is considered that the proposed development due its peripheral location and the lack of adequate and safe pedestrian and cycle linkages and adequate bus connections with the built up area of the city and associated facilities and services, the proposed development would be excessively car dependent and with a lack of alternative travel options would, be contrary to national, regional and local policy objectives relating to compact growth and sustainable mobility.”
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, November 4. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

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