Iarnród Éireann has revived plans for a multi-million euro overhaul of Ceannt Station – which includes extended platforms for increased services, new glazed entrances and modern retail units.
The State-sponsored body has been told that the National Transport Authority (NTA) will fund 50% of the cost of the scheme and an application will be made under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).
The project was originally granted planning permission in 2014, but was shelved in 2015 after funding was withdrawn by the NTA.
It is a separate scheme to the proposed new ‘urban quarter’ on eight acres of land beside the railway station, for which developer Gerry Barrett has been awarded the contract.
With planning permission on the station’s expansion set to expire in August, Iarnród Éireann has applied to Galway City Council for an ‘Extension of Duration’ on the permission for a period of five years. As a general rule, planning permissions expire after five years if a project is not constructed.
The company has now indicated that it expects the scheme can be completed by the end of 2023.
“Funding for construction of the development was to come from the NTA with an anticipated draw-down date of mid-2015. Funding was withdrawn in early 2015. This was beyond the control of Iarnród Éireann.
“The NTA has confirmed [this month] that 50% of funding will be available from them for this project. Our intention is for the remaining 50% to come from the URDF,” the City Council was told.
The plans involve the extension of the existing bay platform to allow for six-car Inter City trains and the construction of a new 200m full-length platform; modern retail units, new glazed entrances and state-of-the-art ticketing areas at the train and bus station.
It is also proposed to construct a new 1,000 square foot single-storey glazed entrance building on the northern side of the station and an extension to the north-eastern bay platform.
The plans involve some demolition works and removal of walls within the train station to provide additional ticket purchase facilities, enlarged concourse areas, new toilet facilities and new ticket inspector accommodation.
On the southern side of the building, the existing stores and maintenance area will be refurbished to provide 25,000 sq ft of space with new entrance plazas and glazed entrances, and an extended train concourse and platform.
There will also be glazed retail ‘pods’ as well as a new toilet block.
When the original application was approved, planners ordered that a Conservation Architect and qualified archaeologist monitor the works to ensure the preservation of features or other objects of archaeological interest. Irish Rail were also been ordered to introduce a management regime to ensure the carpark is restricted to the travelling public, including the ticketing and exiting mechanism.
They added that the permission should not be interpreted as prejudicing the future redevelopment of the site, or the feasibility of providing a rail link to Galway Harbour lands.
The City Council is expected to make a decision in August on the application for more time to construct the scheme.
Rationale behind Irish Rail’s plans
“The existing station public area in Ceannt Station is undersized to accommodate the level of public at present, it consists of only two dedicated rooms, the entrance lobby and the waiting room,” according to Iarnród Éireann planning documentation.
“This proposal is cognisant to the future development of a second full platform and makes passive space for this long-term objective. It allows for a phased approach in achieving this with initial phases being possible without impeding later on more extensive refurbishment.
“This increase in area will provide sorely-needed internal waiting and circulation space and allow Ceannt Station to become a more accessible and attractive location for bus and rail passengers.
“The proposal is to link all areas of the existing station building as much as possible, this will allow circulation from the existing entrance through to the new interchange link and into the extended public areas.
“The existing Iarnród Éireann and Bus Éireann ticket offices will be reconfigured to create a larger ticket hall and fully-accessible ticket counter. Additional ticket vending machines will be installed also.
“It is proposed to create additional passenger areas in the vacant Bus Éireann stores and garage area. The space available in this area is approximately 1,600 square metres. It is envisaged that this area will provide a combined waiting area and retail spaces.
“It is proposed to open and glaze the existing stone wall arches, this will create a colonnaded entrance from the southern side of the station.
“A new entrance from the car park side is proposed, this area will be glazed and screened from the platform areas. It will consist of a raised podium level, this is level with the station platforms.”
Gardaí raid cocaine lab in Galway City
Two men have been arrested following a Garda raid in which a cocaine laboratory was discovered in Galway City.
In total, Gardaí seized €178,500 in cash, €50,000 worth of cocaine (subject to analysis) and a number of drug manufacturing components as part of an intelligence-led operation into the sale and supply of drugs in the Galway Garda Division.
At 7.40pm yesterday (Sunday) the Divisional Drugs Unit in Galway stopped and searched a car on the M6 motorway in the vicinity of Loughrea where €17,580 worth of cash was seized.
As part of a follow-up search, Gardaí uncovered what is believed to be a cocaine processing laboratory and seized cocaine (pending analysis) with an estimated value of €50,000 at an address in Galway City.
At this address, Gardaí seized a quantity of mixing agent, a cocaine press, vacuum packer, industrial gas masks, and a cash counting machine, which are believed to have been used in the manufacture of cocaine for sale or supply.
In a further follow-up search, Gardaí seized €161,000 in cash at a separate premises in the city.
One man in his 20s was arrested following the detection on the M6, while a second man in his 30s was arrested at a property in Galway City.
Both men are currently detained at Galway Garda Station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drugs Trafficking) Act 1996.
These seizures were part of an intelligence led operation and were detected by the Galway Divisional Drugs Unit with the assistance of the Western Regional Armed Support Unit.
“It will be akin to the notorious Rahoon flats”
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – More than 700 local residents have signed a petition against plans for the construction of 330 apartments in Knocknacarra – which have been likened to “the notorious Rahoon flats”.
Child safeguarding concerns have also been raised by the principal of Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh – who pointed out that the apartments will look directly into 19 classrooms.
A total of 27 objections were lodged against Glenveagh Living’s plans to build 332 apartments in six blocks – ranging from four storeys to seven storeys in height.
Locals have demanded An Bord Pleanála hold an oral hearing into the plans – that planning authority is due to make a decision by March 20, although it can decide to hold such a hearing first.
One of the objections – which accuses the developer of designing “tenement style” homes in a “blatant attempt to profiteer from the housing crisis” – was signed by more than 700 local residents.
Another objector said the development was “akin to the notorious Rahoon flats, with people being packed on top of each other”.
Locals have raised concerns about the huge number of apartments planned; overshadowing of homes; inadequate open space, playing pitches and community infrastructure; parking and traffic problems; low quality of design and road safety.
Glenveagh Living did not respond to a request from the Galway City Tribune for comment.
This is a preview only. To read extensive coverage of the Glenveagh plans and objections, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.
Arts fraternity rallies as Theo faces deportation
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Less than a year after being invited by the Arts Council to perform at a conference about diversity in the arts, a musician, DJ and rapper – who is about to embark on a project for Galway 2020 – is facing deportation.
Theophilus Ndlovu left Zimbabwe after what he claims was a lifetime of abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to mind him.
His mother left when he was just six years old and he never met his father. He was placed in the care of an unofficial foster family but it was never a happy arrangement.
“These people I stayed with were abusing me. They were never my family. I was running away from persecution and abuse and the way I was treated by these people. I had to fend for myself since I was ten years old,” he recalls.
When Theo was 20, he saved up enough money from mowing lawns and selling chickens to escape, arriving in Ireland where he sought asylum. Authorities placed him in a Direct Provision Centre in Finglas for a fortnight before he was transferred to the Great Western Direct Provision Centre off Eyre Square, where he has remained for nearly four years.
Almost immediately, Theo felt at home.
“This is my family. Galway is where I found my voice. It has become my home. It is just where I’m meant to be.”
Theo has immersed himself in the arts community and has become a leading hip-hop artist, known as Touché, performing regularly at venues such as the Róisín Dubh and the Black Gate. He was instrumental in getting fellow asylum seekers and refugees involved in music collaborations.
He is a founding member of the multicultural music project ‘Atmos Collective’ and has facilitated numerous music workshops in Galway, “teaching, motivating and inspiring hundreds of young people along the way”, according to co-founder Alice McDowell, an Australian filmmaker and fiddler.
The collective was recently granted funding by the Galway European Capital of Culture 2020 committee to host community music workshops in the city and county over the next year as part of their ‘Small Towns Big Ideas’ scheme.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.
The petition is available online HERE