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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Out of hours’ warning served on developers of Westwood site

Stephen Corrigan

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Failure to adhere to planning restrictions has led to an Enforcement Notice being served on the developers of student accommodation on the site of the former Westwood Hotel in Dangan.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that construction works were taking place outside the hours designated by An Bord Pleanála in planning permission granted for the 394-bed development in September last year.

The Enforcement Notice came following a warning letter sent to the developers in November 2018.

In its decision to grant permission, it was stated: “Site development and building works shall be carried out only between 8am to 7pm Mondays to Fridays and 8am and 2pm on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays and public holidays”.

However, a spokesperson for Galway City Council confirmed that their Planning Department had established that work was being carried out during weekend hours when it was prohibited, leading to a number of complaints to City Hall from nearby residents.

“13 complaints have been received and Enforcement proceedings are ongoing,” he stated.

NTM Capital (formerly Ziggurat) was granted permission to proceed with the construction of five apartment blocks on the Newcastle site last year as a Strategic Housing Development.

Planning applications for housing developments of more than 100 residential units or 200 student bed spaces can be made directly to An Bord Pleanála following initial consultations with local authorities.

Local residents reported hammers and saws commencing shortly after 7am each morning and on the May Bank Holiday weekend, a small number of workers continued work well after 6pm – working into the night-time hours.

Speaking to the Galway City Tribune, one resident in an estate adjacent to the site said since the Enforcement Notice was issued last week, out-of-hours work had ceased, but the same had happened after a warning letter was issued in November, only to start again after some time had passed.

In the notice issued to NTM and building contractors BAM, the Council stated that developers are immediately required to comply in full with the conditions of planning permission.

If not, the local authority has the power to enter the site and take steps including the removal, demolition or alteration of any structure.

“You are further required to refund to the planning authority any costs or expenses incurred by them in relation to the investigation, detection and issue of this Enforcement Notice and warning letter dated November 8th, 2018,” the notice stated.

“You are further warned that if within the period specified in the Enforcement Notice, you fail to take the specified steps, you may be guilty of an offence.”

The development is due to open to students in September 2020.

CITY TRIBUNE

Proposals to change speed limits in Galway City are voted down

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Planned speed limit changes for Galway City are stuck in the slow lane after councillors rejected a proposal for new bylaws.

The bylaws would have introduced a 30km/h zone in the city centre and 19 other changes, including increased speed limits in areas such as Bóthar na dTreabh to 80km/h.

Management at City Hall have now been sent back to the drawing board to draft new speed limit bylaws after a majority of elected members voted against them – it could at least two years before new proposals are ready.

At a meeting this week, several councillors spoke out against plans to increase speed limits to 80km/h on approach roads into the city.

Many of them criticised the system of selecting roads for speed limit changes, lashed the public consultation process and decried the lack of input from councillors, despite speed limits being a reserved function of elected members.

Councillors were particularly peeved that the proposal had to be accepted in its entirety, without amendments, or rejected outright – they could not pick and choose individual changes.

Deputy Mayor Collette Connolly (Ind) led the charge against the bylaws, which she described as “idiotic”.

She lambasted the “incomprehensible decision” not to lower speed limits to 30km/h outside schools and she said it was “utter raiméis” (nonsense) that speeds can’t be lowered to 30km/h, if 85% of the traffic on that road travels at 50km/h.

Cllr Connolly said the bylaws were “flawed”, and cited the decision to leave Rahoon Road/Shantalla Road at 50km/h, despite a crèche and two schools on other roads like Lough Atalia remaining at 30km/h.

(Photo: A speed van on Bóthar na dTreabh on Thursday morning)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, including how each councillor voted and a map of the proposed changes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Corrib to be opened up as new tourism and leisure blueway

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first steps are to be taken next year to explore the development of a ‘blueway’ tourism and leisure trail along the River Corrib, from Nimmo’s Pier and onto the lake itself.

This week, Galway City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that monies had been set aside to begin exploratory work on what will be known as the Great Western Blueway.

A figure of €65,000 has been allocated in the City Council’s 2021 annual budget to commission an initial study of what’s involved in the setting up a blueway trail on the Corrib.

“The Corrib river and the lake are a most wonderful natural asset for the entire western region and I have no doubt that this project has fantastic potential in terms of enhancing the tourism pulling power of the city and its environs,” Mr McGrath told the Galway City Tribune this week.

Should the project come to fruition, it would be the fifth such waterway attraction to be developed in the island of Ireland.

Already there are Blueways on the Shannon, from Drumshanbo to Lanesboro; the Shannon-Erne project from Leitrim village to Belturbet (Cavan); the Royal Canal at Mullingar; and at Lough Derg from Portumna to Scariff in Clare.

According to Mr McGrath, the attractions developed along the Great Western Blueway would be environmentally friendly, featuring such attractions as kayaking, paddling, adjacent cycle trails as well as scenic walkways and visitor centres.
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

Future of Leisureland secured through increased Council funding

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The future of the Leisureland pool and gym facility, which last September faced possible closure due to the Covid emergency, has been guaranteed for the coming year, following an increased financial subsidy from the City Council in their 2021 annual budget.

City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, told the Galway City Tribune that the local authority was committed to the future of the Leisureland facility and had increased the subsidy for 2021 from €300,000 to €500,000, in the process securing its viability for the coming year.

“We are all acutely aware of the value of the Leisureland facility, not only to local clubs but also to the many, many people who use the pool and gym on a weekly and often on a daily basis.

“Like so many other aspects of life and leisure in Ireland, the coronavirus emergency had a hugely negative impact on the viability of the facility, but thankfully we can now look forward with confidence to its continued usage in 2021,” said Mr. McGrath.

He also said that the City Council was committed to the further enhancement and usage of the greater Leisureland site which could act as a focal point for the regeneration of the entire Salthill area as a major local and national tourism centre.
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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