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CITY TRIBUNE

One in seven commercial units are empty in Galway

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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.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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

Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

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

Councillors divided over vote on Salthill Prom cycleway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to install a temporary two-way cycle lane along Salthill Promenade hangs in the balance, with city councillors split ahead of a vote next week.

On Monday night, the 18 city councillors will discuss Mayor Colette Connolly’s motion that the lane be installed on the coastal side of the road from Blackrock to a point opposite Galway Business School.

A poll of the councillors carried out by the Galway City Tribune yesterday found nine in favour of the proposal, with one indicating they will abstain. A simple majority is required and if there is a 9-9 split, the Mayor holds a ‘casting’ vote, effectively a second vote.

There has been a flurry of lobbying by cycling campaigners urging councillors to vote in favour, as well as some complaints from residents worried it will again impinge on their parking as visitors to Salthill seek somewhere to park up while they swim or walk along the most utilised resource the city has.

During lockdown, Gardaí removed parking on the Prom to deter people from gathering in a public space. This resulted in motorists blocking driveways and entering private estates, leading one estate off Threadneedle Road to hire a private clamping company.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) believes there are a maximum of 250 spaces that would be lost to the project on one side of the road as currently proposed, including seven disabled spaces, which could be reassigned close by.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the issue and to see how each councillor intends to vote, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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