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Planners shoot down Lidl supermarket plan again

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An Bord Pleanála has overruled one of its own inspectors and refused permission for a controversial €2 million Lidl supermarket off the Western Distributor Road.

It is the second time in 18 months that the Board has overturned City Council planning grants for the site.

Rejecting the plans, the Board said there was no justification for a discount supermarket on the two-acre site bounded by the Ballymoneen Road and Distributor Road and that it would seriously injure the visual amenity of the area.

Last July, Florence Thomas was granted permission for a single storey mono-pitch roofed discount foodstore with off licence over a gross floor area of 1,894 square metres (net retail area of 1,271 sq m), as well as 100 parking spaces.

The permission came less than 18 months after An Bord Pleanála rejected an almost identical application for the site.

The current application was appealed by RGDATA – the small retailers’ representative group – which expressed concerns about “the proliferation of planned and permitted convenience stores” in the western suburbs of the city in recent years.

The group also argued that the cumulative effect of retail developments posed a “real threat to the future vitality and viability of the city centre”.

Planning Inspector Lorraine Dockery recommended to the Board that permission be granted on the grounds it would add to facilities available in the area.

“The general area is characterised by residential development and it is my opinion that a development of the nature and scale proposed would add to the facilities being provided within the area.

“It is a good quality development that would increase competitiveness in the retail sector without being detrimental to the town centre in terms of vitality and viability, especially having regard to its location and scale,” she said.

That recommendation was rejected by the Board, which said that a ‘Master Plan’ for the development of adjacent lands – earmarked for the provision of a neighbourhood centre – would not permit for an attractive form of development.

It said that the substantial amount of parking adjacent to the main road “would fail to provide for adequate visual connection to lands to the south”.

“The proposed development would therefore seriously injure the visual amenities of the area and of properties in the vicinity,” it ruled.

It added that in the context of the new Aldi supermarket nearby – which opened this week – an adequate case had not been made for this type of facility.

The Lidl plans met with huge opposition from local residents – a series of objections to the application were lodged, as well as a petition with more than 130 signatures.

Connacht Tribune

Confusion reigns – but publicans continue serving pints outdoors

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Galway City publicans continued this week to serve alcohol in newly created on-street outdoor dining sections – despite warnings from Gardaí that it was against licensing laws.

The local branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said it is hoping Government will, if necessary, introduce legislation that facilitates pubs serving alcohol in public spaces reclaimed for outdoor hospitality.

On Friday last, our sister newspaper, Galway City Tribune revealed that Gardaí had visited a number of city pubs warning they were not legally permitted to serve alcohol outdoors in temporary on-street seating areas created by Galway City Council.

Publicans were told that if they continued to flout the rules, files would be sent to the DPP.

When the crux subsequently hit the national headlines, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys urged Gardaí to ‘use their discretion’.

“The overwhelming majority of licensed premises are operating safely, and we in Government are determined to continue to support them. If local issues arise, I would urge local authorities, Gardaí and businesses to engage.

“However, I will also examine whether further measures are required from Government. Licensing law is a complex area but I have spoken to the Attorney General this morning and we will take further action if necessary,” Minister Humphreys said.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Apple plans second bite at Athenry data centre

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An artist's impression of the proposed Apple Data Centre.

Apple intends to have another bite at plans to build a data centre in Athenry.  Apple Operations Europe has applied to Galway County Council for more time to construct a controversial data centre on a greenfield site at Derrydonnell.

The company said it will identify “interested parties to develop the project” between now and 2026 to meet global growth in demand for data storage facilities.

It will spark hope in the County Galway town of a revival of the €850 million project that was dogged for years by planning delays and court appeals and was subsequently shelved. It may also attract fresh objections.

The world’s largest technology company was granted planning permission to build a €850 million data centre near Athenry in 2015.

An appeal to An Bórd Pleanála by a handful of local residents was not successful, and the planning appeals board confirmed the local authority’s decision in 2016.

But the company ultimately aborted its plans for County Galway in 2018 after three objectors sought a review of the decision through the courts.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Mum’s dream holiday turns to nightmare after cancer diagnosis

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Julia McAndrew, in hospital in Mexico.

A mother who went to Mexico on a dream holiday to spend Christmas with family is too weak to return home after being diagnosed with advanced cancer.

From the minute Julia McAndrew landed in the South American country, her health took a major downward spiral.

Her son and daughter were shocked when she asked for a wheelchair to make it through the airport.

She and daughter Eliska had flown out to see her son Patrick, who had relocated to Mexico to run an online learning business.

They initially thought she had fallen ill due to the rigours of a 22-hour, multi-stop flight.

But when her stomach problems did not improve and she began to lose a lot of weight and suffered from very low energy, they sought medical help.

This had to be done privately and without the financial help of an insurance company, Patrick reveals.

She was initially diagnosed with anaemia and kidney failure and underwent various treatments, including blood transfusions that appeared to be working.

But three weeks ago, medics discovered that what she had was Stage 4 breast cancer. Julia had cancer a decade ago but was given the all-clear after receiving treatment and a major change in lifestyle.

“It’s returned with a vengeance this time around. It’s spread to her pelvis, ribs and lungs,” reflects Patrick.

The cost of the treatment is $40,000 (€33,000) a month. Her family are hoping to build up her strength enough to endure the long flight home to Oranmore.

They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise €280,000 to pay for her treatment and in less than a week a phenomenal €36,000 has been donated.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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