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One in seven commercial premises empty in Galway

Enda Cunningham

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Stark figures were released this week which show that one in every seven commercial premises in Galway were lying empty at the end of 2014.

And Connacht has the three counties with the three highest commercial vacancy rates in the country – Sligo, Leitrim and Galway.

A new report shows that of the 12,817 commercial addresses recorded in Galway last year, a startling 1,950 (15.2%) were empty.

That is the third highest level for the entire country after Sligo at 16.5% and Leitrim at 15.5%.

According to the report from GeoDirectory and DKM Economic Consultants, the total number of commercial addresses in the country was 223,107.

The report uses an address point as a unit, as opposed to a building, which can comprise one or more units.  In Sligo, there were 627 vacant units at the end of 2014, while in Leitrim, there were 311.

Dublin (22% or 49,161 address points) had the highest number of unique commercial address points, followed by Cork (11.6% or 25,882) and Galway (5.7%). Leitrim, Longford and Carlow had the lowest number of commercial address points, each with less than 3,000 units.

Dara Keogh, CEO of GeoDirectory said “We have observed similar trends during 2013 and 2014, forming at a county and regional level, which is providing us with an overview of the picture from a national perspective. Average commercial vacancy rates are increasing. However the rate of increase of vacancy is slowing.”

The GeoDirectory figures are recorded by 5,600 An Post delivery staff working with experts from Ordnance Survey Ireland. The database is used by many different companies and organisations across a diverse range of applications.  The emergency services use it for route optimisation when responding to 999 calls, which can save valuable minutes in an emergency, while it is also used by the likes of the Central Statistics Office, the Property Registration Authority, Bord Gais, 11890 directory enquiries, banks, property websites and pizza delivery companies.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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