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One in seven commercial units are empty in Galway



Figures released this week show that more than one in every seven commercial premises in Galway is lying empty – the second highest rate nationally.

And the figure was even worse in county towns such as Tuam and Loughrea, where around one in every five business premises is vacant.

According to a new report from GeoDirectory and DKM Economic Consultants, the total number of occupied commercial address points in Galway City was 3,047, while there was a vacancy rate of 16.7% (up 0.7% on the same time last year).

For County Galway as a whole, there were 9,287 occupied address points and a vacancy rate of 16.2%, up 0.6% from the same time last year.

Tuam has 469 occupied address points and a vacancy rate of 20% (down from 21.1%) and Loughrea 287, with a vacancy rate of 19.3% up from 18.2%.

Nationally, Sligo has the highest vacancy rate at 18.8%, followed by Galway at 16.2%, Mayo and Leitrim at 15.6% and Roscommon at 15.3%. The lowest rates recorded were in Kerry and Meath at 10.4%.

For comparison, Limerick was at 15.1%, Waterford at 14.3%, Dublin at 12.1% and Kilkenny at 12%. Nationally, the average vacancy rate was 13.1%.

The report counts each address point as a unit, as opposed to a building, which can comprise one or more units.  A breakdown of the figures for Galway City shows that of the occupied units, around 50.2% are involved in the service industry; 22.6% in retail and wholesale; 14.3% in health; 3.5% in education; 3.2% in the financial sector; 3.2% in industry; 2% in construction and 1% in public administration.

The report reads: “The national commercial vacancy rate stands at 13.1%, with 14 counties recording a decline in commercial vacancy rates compared to only two counties at the same period in 2017. This suggests that the economic recovery is slowly beginning to take hold outside of Dublin. However, there is still a clear divide between counties in the East and West of the country, and in urban and rural areas, in terms of commercial vacancies.

“At a provincial level, Leinster’s commercial vacancy rate stood at 12.3 per cent, while at the other end of the scale, Connacht had the highest provincial commercial vacancy rate at 16.3 per cent. Of the ten counties with commercial vacancy rates lower than the national average, six were located in Leinster. All five counties in Connacht had commercial vacancy rates higher than the national average.

Dara Keogh, CEO of GeoDirectory said: “We are beginning to see evidence that the economic recovery is taking hold outside of Dublin, albeit at a slow pace. 14 counties recorded a drop in commercial vacancy rates in the year to date, compared to only two at this point last year. While this is a positive development, economic activity is still centred around Dublin, with Connacht, Ulster and the Midlands lagging behind.”


LDA identifies lands for over 6,000 new homes in Galway City



From this week’s City Tribune: Investment of €1.8 billion is needed to deliver on the potential for more than 6,000 new housing units identified by the Land Development Agency in Galway City.

The LDA’s Report on Relevant Public Land identified eight sites in Galway which it claims can deliver up to 6,050 affordable and social houses, if planning and other constraints are overcome.

It identified potential for up to 2,240 homes on HSE land at Merlin Park Hospital; up to 1,010 homes at Renmore Barracks; and up to 950 homes at Galway Harbour.

The report conceded these sites are on complex land with “numerous constraints” and are longer-term possibilities requiring masterplans.

The other six sites include: Ballymoneen Road; Terryland Waterworks on Dyke Road; Brothers of Charity Services on Old Dublin Road; City Hall at College Road; and Sandy Road.

Galway’s sites are among 83 State-owned landbanks the LDA has assessed as having development potential for up to 67,000 homes.

Only Ballymoneen Road and Dyke Road are in what the LDA terms Class 1, which can deliver a maximum of 420 within five-ten years.

This includes between 140-200 homes on Ballymoneen Road, and between 160-220 homes at Terryland Waterworks on Dyke Road.

The cost for the development of Ballymoneen Road, on a site opposite Coláiste na Coiribe, would be between €41.2m-€50.7m.

The total cost of delivering up to 220 homes on the Teryland site is between €78.5m and €101m

The remaining 93% of the total city target face greater constraints, and longer timeframes.

Almost 70% of the  target, or 4,200 units, is earmarked for sites that are ‘Class 3’, which are lands that have potential for residential but face more constraints and are longer-term possibilities requiring masterplans.

The LDA carried out an assessment on the eight sites in the city, which had an “indicative yield” of between 4,330 and 6,050 new housing units.

John Coleman, LDA Chief Executive said his organisation was “committed to working closely with the public bodies to find common ground for the release of land for affordable housing purposes and for the common good”.

This was a first step that “will lead to the identification of locations where new affordable homes can be built”, he added.

(Image: Lands at Galway Harbour identified by the LDA for up to 950 homes).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read extensive coverage of the LDA report and for indicative maps of the lands, see the March 31 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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Transport concerns over Knocknacarra high-rise apartments plan



From this week’s City Tribune: Galway City Council has sought further information from the applicants proposing to develop 227 apartments in seven high-rise blocks at the entrance to Gateway Retail Park in Knocknacarra.

In what is the second application for the site at Gort na Bró, Glenveagh Living Ltd is seeking to develop five blocks ranging in height from three to five storeys – with 85 one-bed units, 139 two-bed units; and three three-bed units.

In a Further Information request, the Council noted that Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) expressed concerns that the development “is located in close proximity to the preferred and/or approved route” of the N6 Galway City Ring Road.

“The authority is of the opinion that insufficient data has been submitted with the planning application to demonstrate that the proposed development will not have a detrimental impact on the capacity, safety or operational efficiency of the national road network in the vicinity of the site”.

Planners state that the creation of a “fifth arm” on the roundabout from the Western Distributor Road into Gateway Shopping Park and the site proposed for development was not discussed at pre-planning meetings and “is not permitted”.

Cycling facilities have been identified as concerning, as the two-way cycling lane on the WDR “ends abruptly”, bringing cyclists into the path of oncoming traffic.

Bicycle parking included in the application would be “difficult and inconvenient” to access and would not store non-standard bikes with cargo elements, it is outlined.

(Photo: Cllr John Connolly meets with residents to discuss the Glenveagh apartments proposal).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the March 31 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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Junction underpass in Galway City regularly left under water



From this week’s Galway City Tribune: An underpass to facilitate pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate the Briarhill junction is regularly flooded with up to three feet of water discommoding the most vulnerable road users.

The popular ‘line’ walkway connecting Renmore to the heart of the city is also often deluged with water.

The two routes are used by hundreds of people to get around without cars but are an example of how Galway City Council are slow to address active travel issues, according to newly co-opted Social Democrats Councillor Alan Curran.

Cllr Curran had to warn off four people from walking through the underpass when he passed through last week.

“It’s like that for a few weeks. This happens regularly. I understand from the Council it’s a drainage issue. They’re aware of it and they have cleaned it out but it keeps returning in heavy rain,” he explained.

“The impression I got was it will take a while to get fixed. It may require some heavy engineering solution. My concern is the longer these things go on, the less people use them. Their only other option is wait ten minutes or longer at the begging buttons to cross four sets of lights.

“The entrances are dark and narrow and don’t give the illusion of safety for those using it, especially during the dark winter months. There was a pedestrian and cycling tunnel recently built in Amsterdam and the difference is stark – they know how to do it right.”

Head of Transport at Galway City Council, Uinsinn Finn, said the underpass was constructed as part of the original N6 Link, in the mid-90s when a roundabout operated.

When the roundabout was replaced with a signalised junction, with pedestrian crossing facilities and cycling lanes across the junction, the underpass worked more as a secondary option for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Underpasses – and overpasses – are not ideal and not considered in the city as we put pedestrians and cyclist generally ahead of motorised traffic and accommodate them at junctions with at-grade crossings,” the engineer stated.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the March 31 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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